Press Esc to close
Friday 21 November 2014
News updated at 1:50 AM IST
Weather
Max: 28°C
Min : 16°C
In Bengaluru
Sunny day

Stopping by India's history and art

Baishali Adak, April 16, 2013, DHNS:

The National Gallery of Modern Art features the finest artists India has produced

NGMA houses significant collection of India’s modern and contemporary art.

Passing by the large, Indian flag-bearing Jaipur House near India Gate, it is easy to dismiss it as another sarkari building. Few Delhiites would be remotely aware that this erstwhile royal mansion houses the magnificent National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). The public can hardly be blamed as neither Delhi Tourism nor the media publicises it enough.

However, next time you drive by the Stately home, do drop in for a dekko at NGMA. Without a doubt, it has the most significant collection of modern and contemporary art in the country. Even if you are not a fan of art, this museum could certainly teach you a few lessons on the socio-political history of India and how art developed alongside.

A pet project of Jawaharlal Nehru, a small collection was inaugurated by Dr S Radhakrishanan in 1954. Since then, NGMA has acquired paintings, sculptures, graphics, even photographs. These stand at 17,000 pieces and are spread over four large floors of their New Wing. They are displayed so neatly, datewise and with explanations, you wouldn’t even require a guide.


The oldest are, of course, Company paintings - artworks commissioned by East India Company officials in the 19th century. Art historian Priya Pall says, “Since Britishers paid local artists to make these, the latter portrayed them in a flattering manner. For example, in one painting the first coach of a train carrying Britishers says ‘Reserved.’ The other coaches with Indians say ‘Third class.”

At the same time, many British artists also came to India and painted all that they found exquisitely Indian – snake charmers, temples, river ghats, yogis etc. The works of these artists - Tilly Kettle, William Hodges, Thomas Daniell, Emily Eden etc. – are also on display.

In the late 19th century, the British set up the first art colleges: Government
College of Art Kolkata and Madurai and Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai. Some students from here went on to be pioneers of Indian art. Raja Ravi Varma captured the common Indian on his canvas. His oleographs of Hindu gods and goddesses became his signature style later on.

Another such artist, Abanindranath Tagore, with some other patriotically inspired artists, formed the ‘Bengal school of art.’ Angered by Bengal’s partition, they decided to promote Indian art, such as miniatures at Ajanta, only. Abanindranath, in fact, collaborated with Japanese artists to bring about the famous Colour wash technique in Indian art.

Besides the above, NGMA has put up a stupendous collection of Amrita Sher-Gill’s paintings on her birth centenary. These narrate how her short but significant art career developed – her early migration to Paris (portraits of French noblewomen as well as prostitutes), moving back to Punjab (the dutifully covered up Sikh women), exploration of South India (paintings of dhoti-clad ash mark-bearing men) and the works just before her death.

Then there are the works of the first three principals of Shantiniketan Kala Bhavan – Nandalal Bose, Binod Behari Mukherjee and Ram Shankar Baij. Nanadalal’s paintings sport his unique ‘stamp,’ Binod’s pencil sketches are curious and Ram Shankar’s sculptures domineering.

The other significant set of work on display here is of the Progressive Artists’ Group. Priya informs Metrolife, “FN Souza was expelled from JJ School, for participating in the anti-British movement. He gathered a few of his classmates and formed this group.” Souza’s God-defying sketches, SH Raza’s geometric patterns and MF Husain’s famous horses – all form a part of this collection.

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
Arun Jaitley with Mega actors Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth...

Arun Jaitley with Mega actors Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth...

A buffalo rider splashes the water in the marshy field, just before reaching the finishing line...

A buffalo rider splashes the water in the marshy field, just before reaching the finishing line...

A cheetha resting on the branch of a tree as a bid to beat the heat...

A cheetha resting on the branch of a tree as a bid to beat the heat...

Diego Torres, left, and India Martinez perform on stage at the Latin Recording Academy...

Diego Torres, left, and India Martinez perform on stage at the Latin Recording Academy...

Modi on his arrival at AFS Palam in New Delhi on Thursday after his 10-day long foreign visits...

Modi on his arrival at AFS Palam in New Delhi on Thursday after his 10-day long foreign visits...

Minissha Lamba walking the ramp at a fashion parade in Gurgaon...

Minissha Lamba walking the ramp at a fashion parade in Gurgaon...

The agitating students of Benaras Hindu University torch a police jeep...

The agitating students of Benaras Hindu University torch a police jeep...

Sant Rampal in police custody at Panchkula...

Sant Rampal in police custody at Panchkula...

Nikki Randhawa Haley with Pankaja Munde at a CII intractive session...

Nikki Randhawa Haley with Pankaja Munde at a CII intractive session...

Tennis player Sania Mirza at a launch event in Mumbai...

Tennis player Sania Mirza at a launch event in Mumbai...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523