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Manifestations III

Delhi Art Gallery at its recent bi-annual exhibition, Manifestations III, featured 100 select paintings that gave a kaleidoscopic view of Indian contemporary art. Manifestations III is the third in the series of Delhi Art Gallery's (DAG) bi-annual exhibitions.

It showcased the work of 100 artists including a handful of new names. The show was, a sort of, survey of Indian Art in the 20th century. The work on view offered glimpses into the creative expressions by artists in their quest for modernism in the Indian context.

Manifestations II in 2004 included artists like M.R. Acharekar, Jaffer Ali-Sultan Ali, Gobardhan Ash, Ramkinkar Baij, S.R. Bhushan, Haren Das, S.L. Haldnakankar, Somnath Hore, K.S. Kulkarni, K.C.S. Paniker, Krishna Reddy, Gulam Rasool Santosh, and Chittaprosad Bhattacharya. This year too, there were works of several noteworthy artists on offer, to name a few, J. P. Gangooly, Chittaprosad, L. Taskar, M. V. Dhurandhar, K. Ramanujam, F. Souza, Walter Langhammer, Himmat Shah, Ambadas, Arpita Singh, Viswanadhan, G. R. Santosh, Sultan Ali, Devayani Krishna, Gogi Saroj Pal, Krishen Khanna, Rabin Mondal and Amitava Das featured at the exhibition.

The exhibition included paintings by several famous Indian contemporary artists such as Jamini Roy, Laxma Goud, H.A. Gade, and Abinandranath Tagore. According to the curator of the show, Roobina Karode, the exhibit actually spanned the entire 20th century. The show was first held at Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi, Delhi, and then continued at Delhi Art Gallery. Next to each work there was an excerpt. An essay on each of the 100 paintings by art critics mentioned briefly about the artists and also offered an interpretation of the paintings. The choice of artists was such that the works of established and younger generation artists were represented in equal measure. The third edition of the Manifestations exhibition was not a chronological development of modern Indian art but rather a collation of works by various exponents.

Ashish Anand is the director of Delhi Art Gallery. The gallery was opened in 1993 by Mrs. Rana Anand. The aim behind establishing the gallery is to promote young, upcoming artists. Since its inception, the gallery has successfully organized several prestigious exhibitions; to mention a few ' that of works by the pioneers of Indian Art - the Bengal Masters; Nand Lal Bose, Abinandranath Tagore and Benod Behari Mukhharjee, one by G.R.Irana and an exhibition of works by 50 Korean and Indian artists. In fact, Delhi Art Gallery has become a niche repository for early and mid-20th Century Bengal Art, the self-consciously styled School of Maharashtra as well as Modernists.

DAG received an overwhelming response for Manifestations III in Mumbai at the Nehru Centre, the first venue for the exhibition. According to Ashish Anand, for the Manifestations show there is no fixed theme, but all the artworks are arranged thematically'animals, abstract, landscapes and so on, which was the case for this particular edition as well. Satish Gujral's painting 'Crucifixion', A. Ramachandran's drawing 'Monkey Trainer's Colony', and works by Reddeppa Naidu and Nikhil Biswas were particularly noteworthy.

At the Manifestations III, the paintings unfolded into thematic groupings, emphasizing the varied manifestations by artists under every category whether figural narration, portraiture, cityscapes, landscapes or abstract. There were several interesting works on view. Dharmanarayan Dasgupta's delicately rendered Birth of Moon, a powerful abstract Crucifixion by Nikhil Biswas and an unusual quasi-cubistic painting congregation in the village by Somnath Hore (1957) were particularly noteworthy.

There were some interesting small format works also on view, which appeared to belong to artists' sketchbooks rather than formal gallery spaces, such as the evocations of dense forests by Abanindranath Tagore and Prosanto Roy, a darkly nocturnal owl in watercolor by D.P. Roychowdhury, and an autobiographical drawing with mythic beasts and strange phantasms by the mercurial Ramanujam.

The show titled 'Manifestatons III' that continued in the second week of May, featuring renowned old masters, established contemporary artists and some upcoming artists, was indeed an opportunity for art lovers to gauge and grasp the developments in Indian contemporary art.

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