Souza was thrown out of art school and other stories

Freud, Hockney, Hirst and so on

Souza was thrown out of art school and other stories

Postby rekha2010 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:33 am

Last week I had the good fortune of being able to see Continuum, an exhibition featuring the works of the famous six of the Progressives Artists’ Group of Bombay, at the renovated Delhi Art Gallery (DAG). The gallery in its unique location at the historic Hauz Khas Village has been around for years, but after renovation the use of split levels and correct lighting, ensure that each artwork receives full attention.

The exhibition at the gallery was timed to re-open during the 3rd India Art Summit, on January 19 and will be open to public till March 8. I personally believe it is the most spectacular collection of the works of F N Souza, M F Husain, S H Raza, K H Ara, H A Gade and S K Bakre — all of whom have been responsible in helping to shape the world of Indian contemporary art in their own ways. At this exhibition, we were able to see the transition and change in style and mediums of each artist. The first figures and landscapes in water-colours, gouache or even oils, seemed to bear an uncanny resemblance to each other. As time passed, each painter developed his style, subject and medium and moved on to develop his own style.

It is important to mention, what the group stood for. Arriving from other cities, they appear to have come together to be part of the art scene, which was then centred around the J.J.School of Art. Most of them had started exhibiting in Art Society shows before they came together in the Progressive Artists’ Group. With the dawn of Independence, it was but natural that the group should develop a sort of revolutionary spirit. The most volatile of the group, the talented F N Souza who became active during the 1942 freedom movement, was thrown out of the art school.The other founder-members were M F Husain who had developed from a cinema hoarding painter into an innovative artist, S H Raza and H A. Gade, came from Nagpur to appear for the J.J. School exams, K H Ara was from Hyderabad and a self-taught painter, and Sadanand Bakre was the only sculptor in the group.

At the exhibition, one had the opportunity of once again seeing M F Husain’s painting, that had drawn so much attention and had needed so much protection at the Summit. Along with this large work, there were others that showed his earlier styles and his expertise in water colours. The water colours are particularly interesting to me as I once had the fortune of competing with him and Ara in this medium. The year was 1948 and they had already become members of the Progressive Group. Souza’s bold paintings have always stood out in any show and it is an amazing collection of his work that one can see in the DAG Collection. The bright colours and fierce strokes, make all his subjects eye-catching. Raza early cityscapes and landscapes are on show with his later works, which could be considered the very opposite of what he had earlier done. Ara who was from Hyderabad, was almost completely self-taught. His still life studies of flowers and vases continue to be unique. At the exhibition we can also see a number of nudes that are among the best pieces on show. H A Gade was given to creating colourful vibrant expressionist-style landscapes. Gade took up a job in Delhi and spent long years away from Bombay and hardly ever exhibited. Bakre, the sixth member of the Group, started brilliantly as a sculptor, made a name for himself as a painter in London and returned to India after many years.

At the moment M F Husain and SH Raza are the only members of the famous Progressive Group who are still alive.
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