Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Indian museums to share collections with British Museum

New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) Iconic objects and works of art from the collections of museums across the Indian subcontinent will be showcased along with important art pieces from the British Museum collect

By PTI Feeds | Published: January 30, 2017 5:12 PM IST

New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) Iconic objects and works of art from the collections of museums across the Indian subcontinent will be showcased along with important art pieces from the British Museum collection at an upcoming exhibition in Mumbai.
Titled, “India and the World: A History in Nine Stories”, the show that will be hosted at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) in collaboration with the British Museum and the National Museum, New Delhi, will celebrate 70 years of Indian independence.

The exhibits from across the globe, will be brought together in confluence, with each group representing an important moment in India’s history and positioned within a global context to explore connections and comparisons between India and the rest of the world.

The exhibition will be complemented by an event on February 3, that will see the directors of the three museums in a discussion that will dig deeper into how institutions like the British Museum can share objects from their collection with different audiences.

“They demonstrate the potential that individual objects have to unlock diverse stories and histories. The exhibition provides tools for teachers to share these narratives and help students enjoy moments in Indian history in ways that have seldom been addressed in our schools.

“Shown together for the first time, the objects speak not only to each other but to everyone, providing an opportunity for discourse and cross-cultural encounters,” organisers said.

The collections on display will include a wide variety of objects ranging from figurative representations and large-scale sculptures to inscriptions and coins, paintings, jewellery and tools.
“The treasures from the Indian collections and the British Museum will be carefully chosen to lead and encourage debate.

The aim is to engage visitors to explore not only similarities, but also differences. This helps us understand how we relate to the world today,” organisers said.

The exhibition, which was first conceived by Neil MacGregor, former Director of the British Museum and Sabyasachi Mukherjee, director of CSMVS, has be co-curated by Naman Ahuja, art historian and curator and J D Hill, curator at the British Museum.

The show will move to Delhi in March 2018.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Indian artist Sudarsan Pattnaik bags gold medal at sand art contest in Moscow

Indian artist Sudarsan Pattnaik bags gold medal at sand art contest in Moscow
Moscow: Renowned artist Sudarsan Pattnaik bagged the gold medal at the ninth Moscow Sand Sculpture Championship "The magical world of sand" 2016.
Pattnaik won the championship for best composition `Mahatma Gandhi - World Peace`.
About twenty sand artists from countries around the world participated in the championship. The championship event was held from April 21-27 at Moscow.
Pattnaik`s solo presentation-about fifteen feet high sand sculpture `Mahatma Gandhi` depicted the message of non-violence and peace.
He has participated in more than 50 international sand sculpture championships across the world and won many awards for the country.
He has also got the fourth highest civilian award- Padma Shri in 2014.Pattnaik runs a sand art school at Puri beach in Odisha.
Source : ANI

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ajay Piramal Wants to Bring Fine Art to the Masses

NEW YORK — Ajay Piramal, the CEO of the Piramal-Shriram Group, is known for his ventures in an array of industries: health care, financial services, glass manufacturing, and information management, to name a few. However, in addition to all of these businesses, Piramal is also on a mission to make fine arts accessible to the Indian public. 
"If you go to a museum, it’s a very elite thing to do," Piramal said on Tuesday during a special one-on-one conversation at Asia Society with Asia Society President and CEO Josette Sheeran. "So we decided, let’s make a small effort in that and therefore we opened this museum." 
The Piramal Museum of Art, which was developed through the company's philanthropic group, the Piramal Art Foundation, is free to the public. The museum serves as a space that bridges the gap between Mumbai's private collectors who wanted to make their collections public but lacked the space to do so, and common people who were never exposed to fine art. "We felt that the average person, especially in a city like Mumbai, or even [anywhere] in India, is not exposed too much to art," Piramal said. "It’s in the business district and people just walk through it. You don’t have to make it a special effort to go to the museum, because a common person will get inhibited [thinking] 'I can’t go there.' If there’s a kid from a municipal school — they’re not going to to do that."
Piramal hopes that his contribution will ignite interest among Indian people of the importance of consuming art. 
"It’s not yet top of the agenda [for others]. That’s why we made this small effort of starting at least a museum," Piramal said. "I’m glad [to see] that once we’ve started it now I’ve read in the press that there are three other industrialists are starting [their own museum infrastructures] in Mumbai."
The Piramal Art Foundation was founded in 2014 and is one of the latest philanthropic endeavors of the Piramal family, who also have initiatives concerning women empowerment, clean water access, education, and healthcare. 
Read our full coverage of Ajay Piramal on Asia Blog.
Watch the full President's Forum discussion above
Video Link -
Source :

Monday, April 25, 2016

Art is more than unbroken lines

Ask artist Jogen Chowdhury what he feels about being called the Master of Unbroken Lines, there is a good chance his reply will surprise you. “I am not happy,” he says, shrugging his shoulders to emphasise his discomfort. “Master of Unbroken Lines is not a serious phrase. Art is more than just unbroken lines.”

We are sitting in one of the smaller rooms behind the office of the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), well-known in Bengaluru for its sylvan settings. At 76, the spry Jogen da , dressed in a blue cotton kurta, white pyjamas and the ubiquitous embroidered  jhola , is overseeing the unpacking of more than 200 works that have come from Kolkata and Hyderabad. These are to be mounted for a retrospective in the city titled ‘Compelling Presence’. About 90 per cent of the works are from his collection and the rest have been sourced from private collectors. The works span the past six decades and the show is testimony to his prolific artistic career. Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya, co-curator of the show, points out that Chowdhury is not just an important artist; he is the “face of Indian art”.

Even his early watercolours and drawings, like the ones he did at the Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux Arts in Paris as a student in 1965, command attention. The men who are unpacking the works pause for a few minutes to take a look at the six-feet-long drawing titled ‘Abu Ghraib’. He made it as a reaction to the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. While the gaunt form is in despair, the lines are overpowering. They run from end-to-end without faltering and the drawing has a painterly quality. “Some of the best artists like Van Gogh poured their entire magnificent energy onto the canvas through the tip of the brush. For me, the vibrations in my body come out as the line.”

As the wooden crates are pried open and the works unveiled from layers of bubble wrap, it is easy to see why he is considered one of the most important figures in Indian contemporary art. The New York Times , in a review of his works displayed in a group show in 2002 in New York, called him an exceptional satirist.

Born in Bangladesh, Chowdhury remembers the trauma of Partition and the subsequent displacement of his family from a small village in the erstwhile East Bengal to the city of Kolkata. From the beginning, he says, his thoughts were on serious matters. He remembers wondering about infinity as a class VI student — imagining a wall half-way across the universe and wondering what lay beyond it. “I was preoccupied with the concept of infinity,” he says. As a teenager, he would go to The Indian Museum in Kolkata and stand in front of a sculpture of Buddha and be “hypnotised by its meditative force.”

Force, transcendence, meditative, supernatural — these are the words he uses to explain art. “I will try to keep it simple,” he warns, before embarking on the exposition. “When something has been created out of something and the creative mind infuses it with a transcendental quality, making it out-of-the-world, sublime, meditative, or even supernatural, that is art,” he says. “The beholder should be able to enjoy it with a feeling that is of a higher nature.”

“Difficult to write, is it not,” he asks with a twinkle. For Chowdhury, art is not just painting. “I find art in music, in structures, in simple things like how the Japanese keep their homes.” It’s this creativity that has been the catalyst for his foray into poetry, textile designing, and photography. “When I get involved in something, it has to be in-depth. I have a serious mind.” His wife, Shipra Chowdhury, who has been sitting quietly beside him, can’t resist smiling. “When he is in front of the computer, or is painting or writing, he forgets about time,” she says. “I have to force him to eat.”

Chowdhury has written extensively on art, on art understanding and aesthetics. In one of his essays on art appreciation, he drew a diamond and divided it into three parts. The uppermost portion depicted sensitive people — such as Aurobindo, Tagore, Einstein — who understood art. The middle portion was for the average man with a bit of understanding of art.

“The majority of people like popular things, which is not wrong,” he says. The third portion was meant for those who do not get art at all. “Understanding art is inherent in a person,” he explains. “For those who don’t get it, (art) education will just act as a cover-up.”

Chowdhury’s works have been influenced by several factors. When in Paris, he played Western classical music which suited his mental state then. As the music reverberated “outwards”, his works merged towards abstraction.

Back in India, he worked as a textile designer in Chennai and was later curator at Rashtrapati Bhavan for 15 years (1972-87). For a long time, he played Indian classical music, which “coils inwards” and his subsequent works reflected that. Today, Chowdhury doesn’t play any music while painting. “I am not a religious person,” he says, while also dismissing notions of the ‘mind’ and ‘heart’. He believes that one reacts with the brain. Still, nature instils a sense of wonderment, and when he looks at a flower, its colour and form, he is sure there is a bigger force at play. Philosophy, then, becomes another point of influence. As does real life.

He points to a satirical painting of a couple — a potbellied politician and a voluptuous woman with bare breasts — and says a scandal involving a politician from Odisha triggered it. “There is no fun in direct statements; the fun is in suggestion.” Apparently, the politician’s face is that of his attendant in Rashtrapati Bhavan. His wife shakes her head in loving exasperation.

Chowdhury made a strong statement against Emergency — his famous painting ‘Tiger in the Moonlight’ is allegorical and mocking. Still, he admired Indira Gandhi. “She had a keen sense of aesthetics and took special interest in the art displayed at Rashtrapati Bhavan. When important guests like the Queen of England or the Shah of Iran visited, she personally chose the art to be displayed.”

His home in Shantiniketan is the hub of all matters art, where artists come in droves to visit Chowdhury. No one is sent away without a meal. Chowdhury has recently started an art magazine called ArtEast and, as the chairperson of Rajya Charukala Parshad, he has been the catalyst for books and art shows. He buys the works of young artists to encourage them.

Walking around the small room in NGMA and taking in the works stacked against the walls, Chowdhury talks of his plans to open a museum in Kolkata for his private collection. He is confident it will happen soon. Then he pauses near a table. One of the drawings placed on it has a piece of broken glass inside the frame. “While reframing, that piece was not removed.” He laughs at the irony of a broken glass encased within the drawing of unbroken line. It is a sign to change that title. “Maybe you can think of something else?” 

Jayanthi Madhukar is a freelance writer who believes that everything has a story waiting to be told.
On view Compelling Presence,
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.,
April 22 – May 22,
National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru. 
Source : The Hindu

Friday, April 22, 2016

India’s Richest Woman Nita Ambani Eyes The Art World

Metropolitan Museum of Art Director Sheena Wagstaff with Reliance Foundation chairperson Nita Ambani
(Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

India’s richest woman with a $20 billion family fortune and a 27-story sky palace in India’s south Mumbai, billed as the world’s most expensive home for its $1 billion estimated cost – Nita Ambani is now eyeing the art world. Her new interest is the conservation of Indian art forms and making them more widely known internationally. Recently her Reliance Foundation sponsored an exhibition of traditional Indian pichwai paintings of Shrinathji, the Ambani family deity, at the Art Institute of Chicago. She’s also the biggest funder of the new Met Breuer’s debut show of modernist drawings by Nasreen Mohamedi, the first museum retrospective of the artist’s work in the U.S. Nasreen’s exhibition ‘Waiting Is a Part of Intense Living’ made its debut at the Reina Sofia Museum in Spain this past September.

During an interview Nita says that she is planning a museum of her own in India with an exhibition space for traveling art shows to be housed in a massive convention centre that she’s building on a 19-acre plot close to her Mumbai school. To be opened in 2018, it will include exhibition areas, a 2,000-seat theatre, retail spaces, offices and residences.

Reliance is India’s largest private company, founded by Mr. Mukesh Ambani’s father Dhirubhai Ambani. Mukesh Ambani recently announced his foray into Reliance Jio with an investment of Rupees 1.5 trillion.

Talking about her interest in the world of art, Nita says, “When I set up the Reliance Foundation in 2010, I was keen that it promotes and nurture India’s ancient heritage in a holistic way. When the people from the Art Institute came to see me, I saw an opportunity to showcase our culture to a global audience.” Madhuvanti Ghose, the Art Institute’s curator of Indian art, says, “The speed at which the Ambanis work; no one else can surpass them. As for Ms. Ambani art is a new door for her, but now that she’s walked through, she sees how desperately we need her.”

Indian collectors have already ascended the upper ranks in the world of art. Hotelier Anupam Poddar and Kiran Nadar, the wife of HCL Technologies’ founder, Shiv Nadar have opened private museums for their contemporary art collections in the greater New Delhi.

Madhuvanti says, “Nita sits at the top of India’s wealthiest families, a tastemaker whose travels and causes are closely followed in Mumbai and elsewhere. Until now, she was best known for promoting health and education initiatives—as well as cheering on her husband’s cricket team and soccer league—but her artistic interests, besides dance, have long been something of a mystery.”

Nita’s love for art and sculptures reflects at her Mumbai mansion. Nita says she has slowly added modern and contemporary artworks, nearly all Indian, from earthy abstracts by M.F. Husain to the gold orb sculpture by Anish Kapoor that hangs in her living room. She recently commissioned Subodh Gupta to create a 9-foot-long installation using metal and brass cooking vessels to create a map of Mumbai.

According to a recent Forbes report Nita has been named the most powerful businesswoman in Asia by Forbes, leading a list of 50 women leaders from the region that includes eight from India.

Source -

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Incredible Lahiri Collection at Christie’s Asia Week Auction on March 15

The Incredible Lahiri Collection at Christie’s Asia Week Auction on March 15
An important bronze figure of Maitreya, Kashmir or Western Tibet, Circa 1025, that is coming up for auction as part of The Lahiri Collection sale by Christie's in New York on March 15. Estimate: $200,000–$300,000 (approx. Rs 1.34 crore - Rs 2.01 crore) 
(Christie's )

The incredible Lahiri Collection – a labour of love for art of the medico couple Prof Avijit and Dr Bratati Lahiri – goes under the gavel in New York on March 15. Though two lots from the total of 71 stand withdrawn after the Federal Agents in New York seized the two sculptures believed to be stolen antiquities, there’s nothing that diminishes the brilliance of the collection put together by the Lahiris over several years of their stay in London.

William Robinson, head of the World Art Group under which Indian Art department also falls, writes in the catalogue, “Professor Lahiri bought his first Indian antiquity when he was still a student. Not included in this sale, it was a Sunga terracotta figurine dating from around 2000 years ago. This set the tone of what was to become a fascinating collection. As a collector he very much followed his instincts buying principally from dealers in the London and Hong Kong markets. Over time what was assembled  was a beautiful epitome of the history of Indian Art, with a strong emphasis on the Arts of Bengal, the Lahiris’ homeland, from early periods through the 20th century.” Professor Lahiri is a cardiologist, while his wife is a paediatrician from Kolkata who went on to become a GP in London. 

 The highest priced art works in the auction are lots 47, 59 & 69. Each is estimated at $250,000 - $350,000 (approx. Rs 1.67 crore - Rs 2.34 crore).

Lot 47 is a rare bronze figure of Maitreya from Nalanda, 7th century. Standing a little over 7 inches (19.3cm), the figure is in slight tribhanga pose and shows post-Gupta stylistic influences. This was the period when Nalanda was already an active Buddhist university and monastery, as recorded by Chinese pilgrims. 

Lot 59 too is a rare and fine bronze figure of Maitreya, but is inlaid with silver and copper. The 4.75 in high (12 cm) figure is seated in rajalilasana on a lotus base with his right arm resting elegantly on his raised right leg while the left holds a lotus stem. It belongs to the Pala period, 12th century. The Pala dynasty flourished in the east and north-east part of India between 8th-12th centuries and was one of the last strongholds of Buddhism in India. It is considered one of the golden eras of the Indian sculptural tradition.

Lot 69 is an important silver-and-copper-inlaid bronze figure of Akshobhya from western Tibet, 13th century. Measuring 36 cm high (a little more than 14 in), the figure is seated in vajrasana and is clad in dhoti like the figures in the lots mentioned above. The catalogue states that it is likely that this work of a Tibetan artisan emulates a Pala image because following the destruction of the Buddhist institutions in Northeastern India at the end of the 12th century, artisans from the area fled north to Tibet and Nepal.

Besides exquisite bronzes, the collection also comprises stone sculptures, and paintings by important artists such as Jamini Roy, Nandlal Bose and Rabindranath Tagore to name a few. The breadth and range of the works that make up the collection displays varied interests of the Lahiris in works of art. From New York, Sandhya Jain Patel, who heads the Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art department, says, “I think it speaks to a level of sophistication to be able to collect across genres. People with sophisticated tastes collect smartly just like an investment portfolio with diversified works of art. This collection is important for those who don’t buy only for investment.”

Given the rising interest in classical arts from within India, one wonders if this genre has the same potential to rise up the graph just like the Himalayan works of art. Patel responds, “I think it would surpass. We have had amazing response in our December Mumbai sales and Indian antiquities continue to do well across auctions. The classical arts follow a slow and steady trajectory but we haven’t had a downward trend in this category in a decade.” 

What would make a collector part with such an amazing range of works, especially when it has been collected with so much love and care? Patel feels that though the Lahiris were selling the works as an entire collection, they weren’t expecting the same person to buy. “I think the Lahiris believe that they are temporary custodians of the works of art, just as people in previous centuries must have been. They must be happy moving the works to the next collector/ next generation of collectors as they themselves acquired from somebody else years ago.”   

What is important is that the rich history of Indian art continues to give pleasure to Indians and historically invaluable works are ready to touch the lives of newer generation of connoisseurs, bringing with them a hint of life in this country thousands of years ago.

The Lahiri Collection: Indian and Himalayan Art, Ancient and Modern will be held in New York at 20 Rockefeller Plaza on March 15, 1.30pm EST

Credits - BY Archana Khare-Ghose | March 14, 2016 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

It's ironic that a history of Indian art show couldn't be shown in India

A critically acclaimed exhibition tracing the last 50 years of Indian art turns back without showing at Mumbai's Bhau Daji Lad Museum caught in administrative controversy.

Subodh Gupta’s installation, What does the room encompass that is not in the city? (2014), was shown at the Queens Museum in March 2015 as part of After Midnight. The show was scheduled to open at Byculla’s BDL museum last month. Pic/Hai Zhang & Queens Museum
Subodh Gupta’s installation, What does the room encompass that is not in the city? (2014), was shown at the Queens Museum in March 2015 as part of After Midnight. The show was scheduled to open at Byculla’s BDL museum last month. Pic/Hai Zhang & Queens Museum

An ambitious exhibition curated by gallerist Dr Arshiya Lokhandwala that opened to critical acclaim in New York last March, and was meant to set up base at Byculla’s Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum last month, has been cancelled. Sources say the administrative controversy surrounding the running of the iconic cultural institution could be behind the decision. The show titled, After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India 1947 -1997 involved the works of 26 Indian artists and traced the last 50 years of the country’s art history, ranging from Modern to Contemporary.

Works by artists from the Bombay Progressive Group such as MF Husain, FN Souza and Tyeb Mehta were part of After Midnight, first shown at Queens Museum, New York. Pic/Hai Zhang  Queens Museum
Works by artists from the Bombay Progressive Group such as MF Husain, FN Souza and Tyeb Mehta were part of After Midnight, first shown at Queens Museum, New York. Pic/Hai Zhang  Queens Museum

Since April 2015, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), under whose purvey the museum falls, has been indecisive about the role that its honorary director and museum trustee, Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, will play. That same month, a proposal was passed to revoke the 17-year agreement signed in 2003 between the BMC, the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation and the Indian Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. A six-month time frame was set to frame fresh regulations on the museum’s running. The tussle was essentially one involving the civic body fearing a lack of control and Mehta, due to her cutting edge initiatives, becoming the face of the institution. In January, this paper reported that it was announced at a BMC meeting that powers would now rest in a trust headed by the mayor, who belongs to Shiv Sena, the party that enjoys a majority in the civic body currently. When we had contacted Mehta, she had said it was up to the Municipal Commissioner to take the call and she was unaware of any such move. Strategic decisions, she had said, are taken by the Board of Trustees chaired by the Mayor.

The show that could not be
After Midnight opened in March 2015 at the Queens Museum, New York, as a juxtaposition of two historical periods in Indian art – the Moderns and the Contemporaries. It was well-received by critics and visitors.
When SUNDAY mid-day had spoken to the curator last December, she said she was tweaking her exhibition to suit the Mumbai audience, and that it was scheduled to open on January 21, 2016.
A week before its opening, there was chatter in the art community about problems surrounding the exhibit. This paper had called the museum to inquire right before Mumbai Gallery Weekend (January 22-24) and a staffer had said the show was postponed. A discussion surrounding the show between Mehta and Lokhandwala at Delhi’s India Art Fair on January 31 made no mention of the cancellation.
A private email sent out last week alluded to the critical juncture the BDL was at and informed participating artists about the cancellation. When Mehta had agreed to the exhibition, circumstances had been different. She apologised for the inconvenience in the mail.
“I don’t know about the circumstances for the cancellation, but I do know that both, Tasneem Mehta and the institution have been going through an unnecessary hard time,” said Shaina Anand, participating artist. “Mehta rescued the institution and the staff takes pride in the conservation it carries out, and also in installing the contemporary art exhibitions. While it’s unfortunate that the exhibition has been cancelled, the concern is larger; it’s about how and why educational and cultural institutions are at stake.”
Insiders say it’s not just After Midnight. While educational programmes continue to run in the museum, art exhibitions have been put on hold until further notice.
In January, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta had said that a thorough review of the museum’s running will be put into action. Now, sources indicate that funding is getting hard to come by, and future shows and events depend on the outcome of an upcoming board meeting.
Shilpa Gupta, whose work of marble slabs referring to the unlawful killings in Kashmir, was to be exhibited at the show, said, “The situation at the museum is not easy, and one hopes that it will pass. Tasneem has been one of the few to bring contemporary art to a wider audience and we are aware of the many challenges she is facing.”
Prajakta Potnis, the youngest artist in the show, said, “It is a reflection of today’s times and it is tragic that the show got cancelled,” she said. Mithu Sen, who was to show her installation, Museum of Unbelonging at the exhibition, said, “We got to know of the cancellation over email, and we are still not sure of the exact reasons. This show celebrated India.”
The artworks are now being returned to the artists, and some being shipped back to New York. It is plain irony that a show spanning the history of Indian art could not be shown at a premier India art institution. “It is a loss that a critical exhibition like After Midnight that presented a comparative study of Indian art in the wake of two defining moments in history, a show well-received in New York, could not be shown here,” said Lokhandwala.

When we contacted Mehta, she said she didn’t wish to comment. Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta offered the same response after repeated attempts to reach him.

Credits - By Benita Fernando |Posted 28-Feb-2016