NEWS AND FEATURES

Baroda Group

Baroda Group The establishment of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda's M.S. University in 1950 proved to be the start of a new turn in Indian art's modernist phase. The tutelage of N.S. Bendre, V.R. Amberkar, Sankho Chaudhuri, K.G. Subramanyam and others created the ground for the upsurge of a perceptibly Indianised' vocabulary of modernist art.' This would come to the fore mainly in the sixties and seventies in the work of Vivan Sundaram, Bhupen Khakkar, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Gieve Patel,' K.G. Subramanyam, Nalini Malani,' Sudhir Patwardhan and others. The Baroda style generally consisted in the unorthodox juxtaposing of unconventional techniques with mundane materials. This signals the questioning of the preceding 'national‑modernist' style through the insinuation of' Pop art, Neo-Dadaist surrealism and just about anything that subverted prevailing narrative styles. The themes dealt with by most of the artists in the group ranged over the typically local ' crowded streets, the paanwallah, fisherwomen.'' Khakkar's collages, for instance, not only utilize popular items like oleographs of religious icons, but layer them thickly with several coats of paints to create an irreverence' both ambiguous and satirical. The general tone, among most of the artists working under this umbrella was one of cocking a snook at the art establishment. The group's impulse was, in the main, overladen with the leftist and populist, particularly in the work of Patwardhan and Sundaram.' A novel way of looking at reality, it seems,' demanded a sensibility that veered from the apolitical, a sensibility that was inclusive rather than exclusionary. While' many of' the artists who responded to this current' in Indian modernism may have later turned off into other ways of registering reality,' the work done in this phase has inextricably seeped into the way most present-day artists' approach and negotiate with experience. Nilima Sheikh, Rekha Rodwittiya and' Dhruva Mistry may be cited as among those who take up the issues foregrounded by the Baroda Group. Jyoti Bhatt, Feroze Katpitya, Ramesh Pandya, Shanti Dave are some of' the other artists associated with these avante garde experiments in Indian modern art. (See Profiles of individual artists for more information)

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