A mixed bag of art activities

'Master Strokes II'
An exhibition of works by N R Sardesai, Devappa Badiger, and SL Haldankar, three eminent artists from India's pre-independence era drew art lovers in large numbers. Titled 'Master Strokes II', the show at Jehangir Art Gallery highlighted forgotten masters of Indian art from the British era.

N R Sardesai (1886-1954) worked on a wide range of subjects and was particularly renowned for his mastery over handling various mediums including watercolors, charcoal and power shading, besides oils whereas S L Haldankar (1882-1968) preferred western techniques to paint Indian themes and was noted for portraits, landscapes and mythological works in both oils and watercolors. On the other hand, Devappa Badiger (1902-1967), who studied at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, after passing the government diploma examination in drawing and painting, blended western and Indian aesthetics. His pen and ink drawings and studies on view highlighted his command over the medium.

Most of the works on view have not been exhibited before. Suhas Bahulkar along with Prafulla Dahanukar curated the show. According to the curators, unlike Bengal art there is little documentation of the art history of the era to which these prominent Maharashtrian artists belonged. It's a sad fact that after their demise, they went into oblivion, and their work was not promoted vigorously. The work of these master artists was passed on to their families who unfortunately were unaware of their historic value and failed to maintain them.

According to Bahulkar, apart from the three masters there are many other master painters of the bygone era like L N Taskar, S P Agarkar, A A Bhosale and A X Trindade whose work need to be resurrected and restored.

Buddhist Art show in Germany
An exhibition of sculptures related to the birth and early developments of Buddhist Art in India opened in Germany as part of the Indo-German Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) with the title 'The Sublime and the Ascetic in early Sculptures from India'. It is on display from September 2003 till January 2004.

Special focus is on the early Buddhist images at Mathura. The legends surrounding the life of the Buddha have been the principal sources of inspiration for the creators of Buddhist art. In the 1st to the 2nd century A.D., Buddhist images were made in Gandhara and Mathura for the first time in history. Together with Buddhism, Buddhist images were introduced into Japan through the Silk Road. Images of Buddha were made for the first time about 500 years after the death of Buddha Sakyamuni.

Sakyamuni was worshipped not as a human being but as a symbol represented by a holy tree (bo-tree) or an alter (pedestal). Later, when Alexander the Great made his eastward expedition, Buddha (Buddhist image) in the shape of a human being came into existence under the influence of Hellenism.

The exhibition was earlier held at Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagoya in Japan. It opened at Nara in Japan on July 1 and continued till July 17, 2003.

Vijay Belgave's 'Grains of My Dream' show
Vijay Belgave's recent collection of over 20 paintings can be viewed at Gallery Art Resource from October 21 to October 31, 2003.

Jamaat Art Gallery first showcased a collection of paintings called 'Ladies of Latur' by this talented artist from rural Maharashtra along with a fellow artist, Amritraj Koban, incidentally also from Latur. Both Vijay Belgave and Amritraj Koban are from Latur and moved to Mumbai in search of exposure and opportunities to exploit their talent. 'Ladies of Latur' at Jamaat in 1999 gave an ample display of Vijay Belgave's talent. Another aspect of his work noted during his show at Jamaat was his the usage of wood from old doors from Latur that create an unfinished, jagged look that increased the dramatic effect of his work.

His work has a language of its own, a powerful ability to express emotions, tinged with just the right amount of subtlety. Vijay's paintings primarily focus on the theme of love. More so on the love that exists between a mother and a child that he chose to repeat in many of his paintings in the earlier collection. He explains to say, "I want people to be able to see the depth of love and the different forms of its expression." In fact, most images by him are the woman conceptualized as the central force. The artist's reasoning for this: "Women are much more expressive, sensitive and responsive to emotions and that's why I find it much more interesting to make women the subjects of my work."

Apart from the impressions of his early village life, the artist is inspired by the simple way of living that the rural folks follow. He creates fascinating festive leitmotifs by making use of traditional festivals as a backdrop in almost all his paintings.

Vijay Belgave's 'Grains of My Dream' after a week-long show at Jehangir Art Gallery till October 20 continues at Gallery Art Resource from October 21 to October 31, 2003.

K. Balasubramanian abstracts
The show of K. Balasubramaniyan, a graduate of the Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai at Vinyasa Art Gallery displayed his abstracts.

The work is largely based on the concept of 'panchbhutas' (five elements drawn from nature). The artist has arrived at depicting Nature symbolically after an exhaustive study of the concept. Playing with geometric shapes such as the triangle, the circle and the square, he has evolved interesting compositions. The mixed media lets a free play of his imagination with these shapes, all structured to be meditative and harmoniously blended.

Balasubramaniyan has arrived at his visual language through a process of experimentation. He has also traveled extensively to absorb the images and impressions to translate them onto the canvas.

The preferred colors of the artist are in dark and sombre tones producing an ambience of heaviness and gloom. They are predominantly deep blues, reds and browns. Some of the colors, nevertheless, have lively electric blues and verdant greens to provide relief within the gallery space.

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