Signposts of the Times: The Golden Trail

Rajeev Lochan, Director of the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Delhi (which has turned 50 last year), is in Mumbai with the exhibition that celebrates its golden jubilee.

On March 29, 1954, then vice president S. Radhakrishnan inaugurated the NGMA at Jaipur House at the India Gate circle in New Delhi. There were less than 200 paintings in its inventory then. Today visitors can look at more than 16,000 paintings, sculptures, graphics and photographs.

Lochan, who is now in charge after Saryu Doshi's departure early this year, is the curator of 'Signposts of the Times: The Golden Trail (1954-2004)'. The show includes 213 works from NGMA Delhi's permanent collection. 'The Signpost of the Time: The Golden Trail' has been broken into a series of showings.

The landmark works chart the development of modern Indian art 1850 onwards. The show reflects the dialogues and the dialectics that went into shaping the character of modern Indian art. It showcases the evolution of modern art form from the old school. There is an interesting mix of works on view. Indian contemporary artists who have made it big on national and international stage feature in this major show.

The curator of the show, Prof. Rajeev Lochan, has graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University of Baroda with a Master's in Creative Painting. He has been actively involved in researching traditional and contemporary art forms of the country and has coordinated and curated several National and International exhibitions for institutions like the CMC and the National Gallery of Modern Art. He has been actively involved in teaching for over two decades and has lectured at several premier institutions. He is currently the Director of the National Gallery of Modern Art.

The exhibition features over 200 works of artists from pre-Independence era to the present. There are works of late F N Souza whose 'heads' reflect anger and angst and are defined by thick contour lines and receding brows to make a strong expressionist statement .

Bhupen Khakhar brings life and warmth to the images of ordinary people. KCS Paniker has always searched for indigenous idioms to incorporate in his style, and questioned international modernism. The line is a significant feature of his style.

Tagore brothers, G R Santosh, J Swaminathan, K G Subramanyan; virtually every artist you name is here. The exhibition catalogue introduces M F Husain as a 'restless soul' who has never ceased to project the essential dignity of the human figure and who introduced symbols of peace and love. His Mother Teresa series falls into this genre. Husain loves to work in an epic scale with strong lines and vigorous brushwork using bright colors.

The creation of Sankho Chaudhuri is also showcased. The creator took up sculpture and worked with diverse materials. Showing mastery of carving , his human figures express an innate sense of rhythm.

Tyeb Mehta is also on view. The fractured plane of his angst-ridden images are held together by fields of color. Worth noting are Mehta's lines, which are sharp and precise. The painterly application of color introduces an inner glow to the canvas.

According to Prof. Rajeev Lochan, the exhibition showcases the works of some of the best Indian artists from pre-independent India to present day. Interestingly, memorabilia that carry imprints of the works of several renowned artists like Amrita Shergil, Binod Bihari Mukherjee, Jamini Roy, Ramkinkar Baij, S H Raza and others are also on display. There are T-shirts, mugs and other accessories available at the venue.

The 10-day exhibition was opened to public on September 26.

view all articles