Thursday, August 22, 2013

Xu Beihong's India, Way of the monks show, Tempe Inscriptions, and more

Xu Beihong's India

The recent diplomatic weather between two large Asian neighbors, India and China, are heated with the alleged Chinese army incursion issue. But very few people will remember that over a half a century ago, a humble Chinese virtuoso called Xu Beihong traveled to Tagore’s Santiniketan and created a different history of artistic diplomacy between two rival nations, observes Ritwij Bhowmik for TAD.

(Ritwij Bhowmick at Xu Beihong's residence)
It was a cloudy day in Beijing, when I finally arrived at the “Xu Beihong’s residence”, located in a quiet environment of the city. The residence, now transformed into a huge Museum exhibits all of Xu’s works, articles, with his own collected artifacts and open all through for art lovers. It was a moment of epiphany for me to visit and witness Xu’s Master pieces in his own residence. 

The untamed towering horse painting that disseminated Xu Beihong (徐悲鴻, 1895 - 1953) to his iconic fame, was not all that he stood for. After the birth of the “People’s Republic of China” in 1949, Xu with his connection and dominance over the Communist Party and Chinese Art scene respectively, was the one to shape the next few decades of newly formed China’s art practice. 

(Xu at his studio, Image - google)
Xu started his initial training in classical Chinese calligraphy and painting under his father Xu Dazhang, eventually he traveled to Shanghai and Tokyo to study far eastern techniques. In 1919 Xu went to Europe to study academic painting, and thus became one of the first Chinese to obtain western art education. During his 8 long years there, Xu achieved great skills from prestigious institutes like École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and Berlin Art Academy
(Tagore and Xu Beihong. Image -google)
 Xu, as a representative of Chinese Art, was personally cherished by Rabindranath Tagore. Motivated to rebuild a cultural relation with China, in 1939 Tagore invited Xu to spend a productive tenure at Kala-Bhavana (Santiniketan); the concept of this overture was to arrange exhibition and lectures. Overwhelmed by this, Xu arrived in Santiniketan in 1939 and later formulated his first exhibition at Visva-Bharati University in December.  It was the golden age of Visva-Bharati, when luminaries of Santiniketan school - Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij and Binod Behari Mukherjee were present along with the prodigious appearance of Tagore to observe and interact with this esteemed guest. Xu, immensely praised by Tagore for his fluid style, painted ten portraits of the poet, among them one was in oil and the others ink sketches. Eventually, during his stay, Xu also met Gandhi. This meeting left a considerable influence over Xu’s psyche. Later he wrote extensively about this meeting and also made a portrait of Gandhi. Along with the numerous portraits, Xu also made some landscape and tree studies to capture the tranquil charm of Santiniketan. After a brief stretch in Santiniketan, Xu organized his next exhibition in Calcutta in February 1940. From Calcutta, Xu went to the hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, and stayed there for almost a year. During his sojourn in the mountains, Xu fall in love with the nature and people of this area. Xu finished a number of paintings of the serene natural beauty in oil and ink wash. Here he first thought of his renowned work "Yugong Removing the Mountain" (also known “Foolish Old Man Who Removes the Mountains”) and painted two renderings of it, among them one was in oil and one an ink wash. For this detailed painting, Xu used numerous sketches of Indian individuals, which he created in Kolkata. Xu’s tenure in India ended in December 1940, when he finally returned to Singapore for the fifth annual exhibition of the “Society of Chinese Artists”. Xu’s selected paintings, including the portraits of Tagore and "Yugong Removing the Mountain" were exhibited there, thus invoking a pan Asian connectivity.  

Sixty years have passed since the premature death of Xu Beihong, and history has brought us to a turning point, when we should employ a supportive role to perceive Xu’s importance in the Sino-Indian cultural dialogue and act accordingly to preserve his remaining artifacts in Visva-Bharati.  


The Palimpsest Show

( A work from the show)
Mumbai Art Room, Mumbai presents art works by a duo from Kolkata, artists, Madhuban Mitra and Manas Bhattacharya, in a show titled, ‘Palimpsest’ 
The show displays a new projected work and a series of wall pieces. The works are the artists’ experiments with the ways one perceives, processes, and thinks about photographic images. Madhuban and Manas had won the 2011 Skoda Breakthrough Artist Award for their debut solo exhibition, Through a Lens, Darkly, at Photoink in New Delhi.
This exhibition is one of a series of Inlaks Shivdasani Fine Arts Projects, supported by the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation. The artists will make introductory remarks at 7:00 pm on the 23rd of August 2013, during the opening of the show.

The show is on view through September 28, 2013.

Deciphering Temple Inscriptions

Apparao Galleries, Chennai presents a lecture by eminent art historian Dr Chitra Madhavan, as part of the Apparao Education platform. The topic of the lecture is ‘Written Inscriptions in Temple Architecture’. The lecture also forms a part of the ongoing contemporary art exhibition ‘The Written Word’ in the gallery premises.

The Lecture focuses on the inscriptions found in every nook and corner of India, as the greatest source of authentic information to know about the past. Tamilnadu has hundreds of such epigraphs etched on the walls of temples as well as numerous inscriptions inscribed on sheets of copper (copper-plate inscriptions). 

The stone inscriptions are in various Indian languages. The copper-plate epigraphs are usually bi-lingual - the first part being in Sanskrit and the second in Tamil. These inscriptions provide plenty of interesting data relating to the political, social, economic and the cultural life of eras bygone like the Pallava, Pandya, Chola, Vijayanagara, Nayak and Maratha times.

The lecture is to be held on the 27th of august 2013 at 6:30 pm.

Way of the Monks
( A work on display at the show)
The paintings of Bangalore based artist Bindhu PV are on display in a show titled “Way of the Monks” as part of the fourth edition of ‘Art Bengaluru - 2013’ on at Bangalore. 
Bindhu is a student of artist Shyamol Roy, Kolkata. The artist has travelled widely in India and her works are based on the experiences she has witnessed. Her works are dominated by a palette of warmer shades like yellows, ochres and browns. She has has solo exhibitions in Kerala Lalith Kala Akademi and other galleries.
Her triptychs like ‘Eyes to Aerodreams’ depict human wishes of flight and the philosophies of sristhi-sthithi-anthya. Her work titled ‘Palace of Gold’ portrays the human mind in a golden cage. Some of her works on display are “Path makers”, “Golden bird of resistance” among others.She works and also exhibits her work at her studio in Marathahalli, Bangalore. Some of her works deals with spiritual concepts like moksha, and freedom.
The exhibition will be on view until the 25th of August 2013 
For details, please contact +91 9740287208.
Landscapes and more

( A work on display at the show)
The Artist’s Centre, Mumbai presents a solo show of artist, Sikandar Mulla. The show titled ‘Landscapes’ displays the artists art works rendered in oil and acrylic on canvas. The topic  of landscapes has been explored by the artist in various styles from realism to abstraction.

Water colour wash techniques have been employed on the canvases and paper works for giving the fluidity and dream like essence to the landscapes making them vibrant in colour and forms.

The artist has explored urban and rural architecture in his landscapes and the play of light and shade on various structures therein. 

The show is on view till the 25th of August 2013.

( News reports by Sushma Sabnis)

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