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Indian art and artists showcased globally

A solo exhibition of noted painter M F Husain just opened in London whereas 'Crossings: Contemporary Art of India' presents works of the early modernists, the Progressives, and many works by more recently recognized masters.

The exhibition at London's Asia House Gallery saw a selection of Husain's paintings from the 50s to 70s. An introductory note mentions: 'Drawing on well known artistic conventions, myths and history, Husain is able to connect with the widest audience. Husain's career and success mirrors closely the meteoric rise of contemporary Indian art on the international stage.'

His endless quest for his cultural roots and a fearlessly open-minded willingness to absorb diverse influences has made M. F. Husain one of the most recognizable figures of contemporary Indian art. Subjects in the exhibition include dancers, musicians and, of course, his famous horses.

When Husain took up painting as an art form, he returned time and again to his roots, and to themes that blended folk, tribal and mythological art to create vibrantly contemporary, living art forms. His rise as a public figure has as much to do with his style and presentation, as it does with his themes. He depicts the icons of Indian culture, through the ages, seeking to capture the quintessence of his subjects, like Mother Teresa, Krishna and the goddess Saraswati.

Indian High Commissioner to the UK Kamalesh Sharma who inaugurated the exhibition, lauded Husain as the greatest modern Indian artist. "Husain's career and success mirrors closely the meteoric rise of contemporary Indian art on the international stage," he quipped. Asia House is the premier pan Asian organization in Britain, promoting a greater understanding of the rich and varied Asian cultures. M. F. Husain's works are on view there till August 5, 2006.

Another exhibition of contemporary Indian art is on at Mason Gross Galleries, New Jersey. It encompasses a comprehensive compilation of modern Indian art. The show, entitled 'Crossings: Contemporary Art of India,' includes three segments 'Indian Paintings of the New Millennium', selections from three series of works by Indian printmaker Zarina Hashmi; and a video installation compiled by Arshiya Lokhandawalla.

The curator of the exhibition is Helen Asquine Fazio, a specialist in South and East Asian culture. A curatorial note mentions: 'These works tell a story about modernity in India. It is one of the oldest sites of human civilization on the earth. The paintings make reference to India's deep history and are a social commentary on the present condition of a culture modernizing both quickly and unevenly.'

The segment encompasses works from several of the early modernists, the Progressives, and many works by more recently recognized masters. It represents the important movements and tendencies of contemporary expression in India. 'Crossings' also includes 20 prints by Zarina Hashmi. In these works, the artist explores cities, border crossings, maps and the dissolution of civilization through war and nationalistic violence. The video installation, on the other hand, is about gender.

It consists of six simultaneously playing videos, all by woman artists, which explore the themes of gender and the discourse of conflict and the gaze. The works illustrate both the ways Indian women are stigmatized by gender and the ways they escape their limitations.

'Crossings' continue at Mason Gross Galleries till June 17, 2006.

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