Art Talk

Art Talk

K C S Panicker’s work in ink and pen on paperGlimpses of art history

In fact, together they provided some glimpses into the different stages on the pre-contemporary path of   development. The earliest were Mahadev Vishwanath Dhurandhar’s images from the first decades of the 20th century which manifested the artist’s faith in western academic realism as a means to know and depict the immediate reality of people. He approached his subjects somewhere on the edge between colonially ingrained ethnic types and sensitively intuited individuals. Hence, his sketches included a nude model in a conventional 19th century stance but exuding palpable animation, several descriptive, well detailed faces with headgear characteristic to their communities and a number of gently exact portraits that conjured mood and witnessed the painter’s empathy.

Sarda Ukil’s pre-Independence time studies revealed his variant of the revivalist ethos inspired by Abanindranath Tagore and the Bengal School. Figural and decorative elements sourced from the Mughal miniature tradition were handled by him with the kind of refined, soft precision and abundance of delicately sinuous strokes that led his style towards a heightened, slightly sweet mannerism.

The subsequent step within the indigenist position was represented by Abdulrahim Apabhai Almerkar. Recalling the aesthetic strategies of N S Bendre and K K Hebbar, his pen and ink pieces from the 1950s mediate the influence of early European modernism and its kinship with classical Indian art. The bridge to the merger was the sparing line that silhouetted, contoured and structured figures and objects while imbuing them with latent plasticity. In the vignettes of Chinese fishermen’s life this line acquired a curly dynamism alluding to their hats and pagodas. K C S Panicker, the founder of Cholamandal, except for one work which exemplified the beginning of his mainstream idiom marrying High Modernist abstraction with vibrantly transposed patterns and rhythms of classical Indian motifs and scripts, was presented by his early works from the 1950s as an excellent and inventive inheritor of realistic portraiture.

Those faces were keen insights into individual human psychology that, through a powerfully expressive abbreviation of form, grasped the essential architecture of the heads as tangible volumes. One only wished the gallery had paid more respect to the works as well as the viewer and did not display the drawings above cramped office furniture. Also, artworks are not saris in a shop to attach tags directly to their frames and expect their prices to appear likewise.

 

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