Delve into the history of indigenous prints

"The history of printmaking in India is unique and vivid. To give an insight into its rich heritage, the National Gallery of Modern Art, for the first time has put an extensive show of the prints from its rich collection.

From Nandlal Bose’s iconic image of Mahatma Gandhi to SH Raza’s graphic, depicting the bloodshed and terror in Bangladesh and MF Husain’s rare work are all on display at the exhibition ‘Celebrating
Indigenous Printmaking’.

“The exhibition showcases over 200 iconic prints of more than 100 eminent artists mapping the history of printmaking from the colonial period till the contemporary times,” says Rajeev Lochan, director, NGMA. The art collection of the NGMA is vast and eclectic with more than 17,000 works, including a major collection
of prints by iconic Indian printmakers. These testify to a rich and resplendent past, even as they pay tribute to the present.

Tracing the roots of printmaking in India, the exhibition opens with Nandlal Bose and Somnath Hore’s work. Printmaking became popular in India during 1921 with Nandalal Bose introducing it to Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan. From his visit to China and Japan in 1924, he brought back Chinese rubbings and Japanese colour woodcut prints.

Benodebehari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij experimented with this medium from the 1930s to 1940. Chittaprosad Bhattachary and Somnath Hore used linocuts and woodcuts to disseminate Leftist ideologies, reformist concerns and socio-political critique of events like the Bengal Famine of 1943 and the Tebhaga movement.

There are works by KG Subramanyan who effortlessly incorporated lithography, etching and serigraphy in his art practice. He transformed them into children’s book illustrations. From 1970 onwards, iconic printmakers such as Laxma Goud, Devraj Dakoji and D L N Reddy in Hyderabad, R M Palaniappan and R B Bhaskaran in Chennai and Chittaprosad Bhattacharya, Atin Basak and Amitava Banerjee in Kolkata have made a significant mark in this area. The techniques of intaglio-influenced painters and sculptors in Baroda during this time include Dattatray Apte, Naina Dalal, Jayant Parikh, Vijay Bagodi, Walter D’souza and Rini Dhumal, to name a few.

The interesting thing about the exhibition is that it is accompanied with texts, journals and printmaking tools, which are also on display. “This will benefit students, researchers and scholars to get an intimate understanding of printmaking practices, techniques and developments of the last two centuries in India,” Lochan told Metrolife.

A special section has been dedicated to international prints which were made in
India by the foreign artists. The works created by Robert Rauschenberg in Ahmedabad and the comprehensive collection of prints at NGMA reflect the diverse practices adopted by the printmakers all over
the world, rendering it as one of the richest repositories of prints.

The introduction of digital technology and mechanised software led to a significant transformation in the field of printmaking. In its experimental form, interesting visual vocabulary created by Jyoti Bhatt, Nataraj Sharma, Ravi Kashi, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Ranbir Kaleka, Baiju Parthan, Pushpamala N, Akbar Padamsee, Rameshwar Broota and Gogi Saroj Pal, to name a few, has also been showcased in
this exhibition.

The exhibition is on view at NGMA, Jaipur House from 10 am to 5 pm. Monday closed.

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