The gallery is bringing together a range of artistic expressions by putting up a coveted line-up of close to seventy artworks of fourteen prominent modernist masters of the 20th century, who left India in their youth and did most of their work abroad.
Several Indian artists have now made their home in the world, but for the purpose of this exhibition, only those have been selected who represent the widest swathe of twentieth century art, whose independent journeys were courageous, who were successful in carving careers for themselves in the new homes, and whose identities as artists took on different manifestations.
Most artists came from small towns and carried their cultural baggage with them, one which gave them their unique identity; which they could dip into and use as a resource for their practice. But did it clash with their Western reality? With only their identity to fall back on and the memory of home with all its cultural and social attributes residing in their consciousness, how did they fare – not in terms of a changed environment and its local culture but as Indian artists painting in a land where their impress has lived on far beyond their lifetimes and as a marker of their Indian identity as well as nationality irrespective of the colour of their passports.
The exhibition examines how the simultaneous stay abroad and the draw of the land they left behind found manifestation in their works. It explores whether an ‘Indian’ character or influence can be traced in the work of these artists, some of whom are known for their avowedly India-inspired work, such as S. H. Raza, while others negotiate a complex engagement with nostalgia and their native land.
- Sakti Burman. Courtesy of DAG Modern
- Natvar Bhavsar. Courtesy of DAG Modern