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"Tradition in Modernity"

The Centre of International Modern Art (CIMA) gallery in Kolkata has had an art show titled 'Tradition in Modernity' that has brought together renowned painters Haku Shah, Jyoti Bhatt, T. Vaikuntam, Lalu Prasad Shaw and Ramananda Bandyopadhyay who give a visual expression to the same idea in their own ways.

Ramananda Bandopadhyay exhibits his mixed media on paper, titled, 'Morning Duty', 'Nartaki' and 'Madonna'. The renowned painter also sculpts for his personal creative joy. A student of Nandalal Bose, an individualist in spirit, he accepts certain values of the Bengal School namely search for beauty, lyricism, musicality etc. but stands apart in technicality with his robust, figural subject matters. Bandyopadhyay, a dexterous draughtsman, continues to draw artistic inspiration from his early non-urban roots. His fluid curvilinear style adds a new dimension to the traditional patachitra. With superb control and mastery over line drawing, he exhibits extreme skill and sensitivity.

Jyoti Bhatt shows a range of works including Hand colored mixed intaglio, Collage with screen-printed images on board, Hand colored intaglio and Reverse painting in mixed media. His works are curiously titled 'A Face with many faces', 'Remains of the old bungalow' and 'Beginning of the journey'. His 'Devi' is a Mixed media on paper whereas a 'Blue Fly' ' 1972 is mixed intaglio. Bhatt's color intaglios involve another dimension of modernism in the Indian context. In Blue Fly he uses the Tantric space as a repository of non-Tantric figures and objects.

He is recognized as one of India's major authorities on folk designs. As we all know, his mission as a painter and a graphic artist is to preserve and seek inspiration from the fast-disappearing folk art traditions of rural India. Since the Seventies, Bhatt, a member of the Group 1890, has been inspired by the colorful stylized motifs of cross-stitch embroidery from his native Saurashtra as well as the use of traditional calligraphic ideograms. Bhatt has used all these traditional motifs and yet, broken tradition. He has been successful in creating a new visual vocabulary of contemporary abstract design.

Haku Shah's works 'At the forest', 'Mother Chamunda', 'Krishna in Yamuna', 'Cowherd (White)' and 'Vanakanya', on view are Oil on canvas, He is a painter, cultural anthropologist, teacher and author of international repute. He combines different disciplines such as design, photography, film and writing in his creative expression Lalu Prosad Shaw's all untitled works are Drawing in crayon on paper or Tempera on paper board. The artist is adept at printmaking as well as tempera painting. In printmaking, the artist expresses his modernity, both in terms of technique and imagery.

In paintings the imagery is taken from every day life depicting simple objects and events. In his small-sized tempera paintings, one notices stylistic elements inspired from the 19th century Company School painting and the Kalighat pata painting tradition. He occasionally instills purely surrealistic content into his non-linear figural constructs.

His single figures and still lifes are done in a style which is very indigenous and yet, very sophisticated. Shaw's visual expression is quintessentially Bengali expressing wit, humor and sensitivity rooted deeply in his indigenous spirit.

T. Vaikuntam presents Acrylic on paper. He is known for his paintings in tempera and watercolor on paper, which are deeply rooted in the rural Andhra soil of South India. His works are not large; some could even be described as miniatures. The figures, mostly of women, evoke the sense of earthy voluptuousness found in the mural and folk painting traditions of South India. On a flat two-dimensional surface, Vaikuntam's large figures occupy nearly all of the pictorial space and express a sense of monumentality. The painter achieves this with the use of controlled and fluid lines, juxtaposed with brilliant primary colors like red, green, yellow, dark brown and white. However, the artist's use of simple details like caste marks, gold jewellery, flowers and an occasional parrot give his paintings a distinctively Indian flavor.

The show at CIMA gallery, Kolkata, 'Tradition in Modernity' that blends tradition and modernity continues till the first week of April 2005.

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