Delhi Silpi Chakra

Soon after Independence in 1947 and the Partition of the sub-continent, artistes who had migrated to Delhi from Lahore in Pakistan decided to come together in a group that would help them come to artistic terms with the new reality. The idea was to study each other's work, comment on it, and engage in some honest self-criticism. The members of this Arts Circle included B.C. Sanyal, Kanwal Krishna, Dhanraj Bhagat, K.S. Kulkarni, P.N. Mago, Dinker Kowshik, Harkrishen and others.

Apart from addressing and recording the trauma of Partition, the artistes worked at continuing the search for an Indian idiom, though one also carrying all the extant elements of modernism and contemporaneity. In this, they enlisted the collaboration of the Dhoomimal Gallery which exhibited their work. They also occasionally displayed their work in the open park at Connaught Place, the city centre. A number of artists ' Satish Gujral, Ramkumar, K.G. Subramanyam, Bimal Dasgupta, Shanti Dave and Ambadas among them ' first set out on their careers under the friendly aegis of the Delhi Silpi Chakra.

The work of the artistes of the group showed a technical skill that patterned itself after the handicraft traditions of their native Lahore. Satish Gujral, an acolyte, would gush in admiration at the craftsmanship the artists displayed. These artists, according to him, displayed 'a modernity that I considered indigenous,' and one which 'exuded not only a freshness, but also the smell of the soil I knew so well.' This craftsmanship would later resonate in the practice of the South-based artists of the Cholamandal Artists Village later.

If today Delhi has an art infrastructure and arts culture that is the envy of most other cities in India, it is mainly due to the efforts of this band of practitioners.

(See Profiles of individual artists for more information)

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