It was a peaceful afternoon at Udaipur’s Lake Pichola. The white Mohan Mandir monument stands tall, its domed balcony reflected in the sun-drenched water. And there she was, the young girl, topless, balancing on top of a bronze vase.
This vision from a January day in 1893 captured the imagination of Edwin Lord Weeks, an American painter, who featured her in four works in a series titled The Lake in Oodeypore.
Oil on canvas is the highlight of Iconic Masterpieces of Indian Modern Art, an exhibition opening on 11 February, inaugurating DAG’s new space at Windsor Square in Janpath, New Delhi. The two-story gallery spans around 6,000 square feet twice as large as the old DAG at The Claridges.
“We needed a much larger facility for the nature of the exhibitions we host,” said CEO and CEO Ashish Anand. “We are also very conscious of the need to provide easy access (to the showroom) in a central location. At Windsor Place, we’re close to the city’s historic shopping and dining spots.”
Established in 1993 in Delhi, the gallery has built up an impressive collection of works over 30 years, obtaining numerous works from the assets of artists. Two other outposts have been opened since then, one each in Mumbai and New York City. DAG has partnered with major museums and the Archaeological Survey of India to present excellent exhibits.
Notable among these is the March to Freedom exhibit in 2022, which celebrates the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence with a display of more than 150 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures and movie posters.
The ongoing exhibition, Iconic Masterpieces…, showcases 50 rare works that trace the development of Indian art from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Besides works by artists Artists like Weeks are paintings by masters such as FN Souza, Amrita Sher-Gil, Nandalal Bose and Raja Ravi Varma.
Ravi Varma is an 1870 oil painting titled Kizhakke Palat Krishna Menon & Family. It is believed to be the artist’s first authorized work. While in Calicut (present-day Kozhikode), Ravi Varma met Menon, an auxiliary judge at the Mangalore court, who commissioned him to paint a portrait of his family. The result is this distinctive, realistic, detailed oil-on-canvas work.
Meanwhile, the rare Sher-Gil on display is not a painting but an untitled 1940s Parisian plaster sculpture, the artist’s only known sculpture. It depicts two tigers and was made when Sher-Gil lived in Saraya, Uttar Pradesh, with her husband, Dr. Victor Egan. Saraya was then home to a large tiger population and this work, experts believe, may have been the result of Sher-Gil’s frequent sightings of the animal on hunting trips with Egan.
Souza’s 1960 oil painting, St Peter, on display. It is considered one of the most outstanding works of the artist of Catholic origin. Unlike his darker paintings, which serve as commentary on clerical hypocrisy and the corruption of the rich, this one depicts an apostle in plain clothes, serene and peaceful, without the fancy dress Souza dislikes and the terrible pain and sacrifice that Souza would portray in his paintings. works on the subject of the birth of Christianity. The use of green and red represents the spirit of celebration; Peter’s brown face reflects Souza’s resistance to white hegemony inherent in traditional Western depictions of Christ and the apostles.
Also, notice the dramatic hunting scene painted in oil by British landscape artist Thomas Daniell. The 1802 work depicts a deer being caught by three hounds in the middle of the stream as hunters wait on the riverbank, hiding behind trees and rocks. One of the men raised an arm, as if to restrain a companion, conscious that the dogs were within range. The hunter on the right shot better and raised his gun to fire. It’s a masterful illustration of fluid motion captured on a still canvas.
The iconic masterpieces… are on display at DAG’s new space until March 26. In April, it will come to DAG Mumbai at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. “We want to continue to share the best Indian art with our viewers,” Anand said, “and hope to be able to curate shows that show us how to look at art from different angles. .”
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