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Celebrating Indian art legends

Celebrating Indian art legends
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Lalit Kala Akademi screened two documentaries directed by the veteran theatre personality, E Alkazi from their archives on 19 December evening in the auditorium of the Akademi. These two documentaries bring out the contributions and importance of two painters who gave a new grammar to the language of Indian Art.  

One was on Amrita Sher Gil, much acclaimed painter who gave a new meaning to modern Indian painting. She single handedly took the challenge of modernising the Indian painting when already Bengal school and the school following the Victorian styles were dominating the Indian Art world. The ‘bharat-mata’ figure or the realistic depiction of women figures from these already existing schools did not inspire her. She infused raw energy into her works that profoundly talk about a deep understanding of sexuality and freedom of women. Her women—reserved, somber, poignant and with distinct characteristics add a cavernous observation of human psychology. Born, brought up and trained in Europe, she returned to India, she believed, where she belonged. She drew inspirations from Indian cultures and paintings, especially the miniature paintings. Her Three Women or Hill Women or Woman on the Charpoy brings forth her love for painting and Indian society. After a productive year of 1940s, she died in 1941 at the age of twenty-eight from a short period of illness. India lost the princess of canvas much before the independence. 

The second one was on MF Husain, the controversial, loved, celebrated poet-painter of Modern India. Alkazi tried to capture the spirit of Husain, with his iconic painting-brush walking stick, walking on the streets of Delhi mingling with his own people. This gave him energy to give human shapes to inanimate objects, which can be seen in his umbrella series. His understanding of the working class and their struggles can be seen in his paintings where he made the cart-bull-man into a composite ‘machine’ yet representing a picture of the dismantled human figure. His Ramayana and Mahabharata series show his brilliant understanding of the Indian culture. He said the figure of woman/shakti is so powerful in his mind that he tried to give expressions to it through Parvati, Saraswati, Draupadi and Mother Teresa. The ‘horse’ that ran for freedom of imagination and creativity in life and on canvas died in 2011. 
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