Landscaping Delhi over three centuries

Landscaping Delhi over three centuries

An exhibition documenting the landscape art in India since the late 18th century till the recent past is on in the City. The genre of landscape art arrived in India through travelling European artists, remained popular throughout 19th century and began to wane with the advent of modernism and a growing emphasis on human figure.

The exhibition Indian Landscapes: The Changing Horizon at Delhi Art Gallery, brings together the work of the earliest European artist-travellers to India such as Thomas Daniell, William Hodges and Edward Cheney and academic realist oil landscapes by acknowledged masters of the form such as J P Gangooly and Ravi Varma.

It also has a representation of academic Indian art school-trained artists from the 1920s-60s who specialised in landscapes such as S L Haldankar, M K Parandekar, L N Taskar and Bengal School’s Far East-inspired innovations seen in the works of Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Prosanto Roy and many other artists.

Master printmaker Haren Das, known for his serene, bucolic landscapes of rural Bengal, finds special and substantial representation.

The exhibition of some 220 paintings of over a 100 significant artists spanning three centuries has been curated by Kishore Singh, head, publication and exhibition, Delhi Art Gallery.

“We decided to hold this exhibition around a year ago. Of all exhibited paintings, we already had some 90 per cent of them in our collection. We acquired the rest of them with a lot of hard work.

“India did not have the landscape art genre before the Europeans brought it here. Initially, Indian artists were greatly influenced by their British counterparts. When the British came to India and set up art colleges, Indian artists developed their own style in landscape art too,” he informs Metrolife.

In 20th century, landscape art started declining due to photography’s emergence. The artists were drawn tow­a­rds abstract art and portraits. By 30s, we had very few artists of this genre and the status remains the same today.

Post-independent Indian art and modernism is represented by a few abiding landscapists such as Gopal Ghose, experiments in abstraction by F N Souza, K S Kulkarni, S H Raza, Ram Kumar and M F Husain, an artist not known to have painted landscapes.

“We have very few landscape artists at present such as Avinash Chandra, Ram
Kumar, Manu Parekh, and Sanjay Bhattacharya,” says Kishore.

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