A showcase of works by Raza, Ram Kumar, Padamsee & K. G. Subramanyan

The four major names from the Gandhian era of India who belong to the pre-independence period feature in a unique show. It showcases the works of Paris-based S. H. Raza and Delhi's Ram Kumar, who excel as abstract colorists, with Mumbai artist Akbar Padamsee's intense spiritual renditions of the nude figure, offset by K. G. Subramanyan's jocular, satirical take on human forms

These four are among the first generation of post-colonial Indian artists who combined an internationalist desire with the need to belong emphatically to their homeland. Each of these artists explores a specific range of emotional nuance, visual interest and conceptual issues; yet they are bound together by grand patterns as well as fugitive or incidental details.

Akbar Padamsee's oils have been characterized by an incandescent gravity, his drawings by an austere grace. He has even dabbled with digital art. A member of the first generation of post-colonial Indian artists, which sought cosmopolitan freedom in Paris and London during the 1950's and 1960's, he is seen to have developed his images within the genres of portraiture and landscape as refracted through the prism of high modernism.

About his fascination for human figures, he quips that he has always loved the human form.' The human form in motion is exciting and sometimes when my models allow me to film them using my video camera, I shoot them in movement and later freeze and image and sketch it out,' he has stated in an interview. K. G. Subramanyan is among the few artists who have explored the possibilities of Modern art from this perspective. As an artist he is extraordinarily versatile, and the exploration of art as language is one of the running themes in his writings. He works in diverse media, sizes, and techniques over a stylistic conformity to a medium, size, technique, and manner of visualization.

Since 1949 Ram Kumar has exhibited regularly in India and internationally. For well over five decades, his works have continued to mystify viewers. Starting with his figuratives, the sad, desolate and lost faces or his acclaimed Varanasi series and the deeply meditative landscapes in later years, bringing a certain inherent silence, have touched a chord with viewers. He is also a well-known short story writer in Hindi with five collections of his writings having been published. In the 50s he used to paint human figures to express alienation and loneliness. His figures were peculiar to the city; they were dressed in suits and ties, the modern garb. Yet they wore it uneasily as though modern India bewildered them. He has stated in an interview: 'The terrible human conditions have influenced me the most. There is an irony I see in the situation around me. There is a sense of alienation and that too in crowded cities, where people are all around you.'

When he traveled to Varanasi for the series of paintings he was doing, he saw not only a city but also a culture and a civilization in decline. Varanasi continues to haunt the artist who finds its ambiguity intriguing, the way it belongs to the dead and the living.

S.H. Raza, a founder member of the Progressive Artists Group, lives and works in France, was in India on a short trip just recently. His set of works on view are an all-encompassing black to a contrasting white, as he indicated that his work has moved away from the vibrating reds and blues he would use. He calls his work a result of two parallel enquiries aimed at a 'pure plastic order' and 'the theme of nature' respectively. Both converge into a single point and become inseparable - the Bindu.

The famous artist is identified with the study of the Bindu (the dot), which he sees as the "point of departure, concentration, energy and life condensed. Though the octogenarian artist has lived in France for about 50 years, he seeks inspiration from his childhood spent in the forests of his native village in Madhya Pradesh and the banks of the Narmada.

Apart from focusing on the Nada and Bindu, the painter has also included a new shape' the feminine symbol of power bereft of any perverse connotations, which he describes as the flame that lights the world. Raza after making an appearance at the group show at Art Musings moved to Delhi for another solo exhibition and the release of his biography 'Aatma Ka Taap' (The Passion), by poet-writer Ashok Vajpayee.

The show titled 'Resonance' featuring works of S.H. Raza, Ram Kumar, K. G. Subramanyan and Akbar Padamsee continues at Art Musings, Colaba till February 22, 2005.

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