An exhibition of a time eclipsed artist
Brij Mohan Anand never made an attempt to sell his paintings. His work was put together by B M Anand Foundation in association with India International Centre. Curated by Alka Pande, the exhibition featured more than 90 selected works of Anand.
It was inaugurated by N K Sinha, Secretary, Minister of Culture and film maker, Imtiaz Ali was the guest of honour.
A landmark exhibition on a maverick, anti establishment painter and illustrator 30 years after his death seemed quite apt in a society unaware about the crevices of their journey. The eleven day exhibition (May 13-May 22), on the “Narratives for Indian Modernity: The aesthetics of Brij Mohan Anand” started with the launch of a seminal meticulously researched book on the artist.
It has been co authored by writer and biographer Aditi Anand and Birtish art historian Grant Pooke.
Orijit Sen, Sudhanva Deshpande, Pawan Varma and Imtiaz Ali were also present among the panelists. It was followed by a round table conference, where Pawan Varma, author of ‘When Loss is Gain’, “I principally sight Anand in the matrix of art of postcolonialism. It reflects the behaviour, choice of pattern and his inspiration from the West”.
For Anand, to be anonymous was being fearless to speak his heart out through art. A director, actor and an editor Sudhanva Deshpande, could not stand but appreciate the tremendous range and variety of styles in his art. The exhibition featured 35 sketches, 14 scratch boards, three scratch board sketches, five ink drawings, six Red Cross posters, 23 book covers and five oil paintings of B M Anand.
He believed that art is a powerful medium of social and political commentary that can be used as a voice of dissent and a tool for advancing social justice. Through his paintings, he rightly presented what he believed. One of his greetings card made from the scratch board composition said, “Stop burning Asia, the death is shadowing and the cultural parasites may come and gain. Awake oh! Asia”. It was his bold intervention, which no other artist of a newly independent India was taking on record. The iconography of his scratch boards located an ambivalent relationship and complex affiliation between artist and the country.
“Being anti establishment also has an establishment order of being. His work seems to merge all the art and mediate some distinctions culturally and historically”, said Film maker Imtiaz Ali. He further added, “Dignity and pride about being an Indian is very resplendent in his work. We need a lot of left in life to balance an over the brink right”.
Graphic artist designer Orijit Sen admired his presentation of unity in his rich and diverse collection of art. Though the book and exhibition were result of an accidental discovery from a massive tranche of his lost work, it will make one realise that art is not for art’s sake, it is for a social purpose.