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Baltimore to host Indian art exhibition

September 12, 2007 15:28 IST

In the first of its kind for the Baltimore metropolitan area, an exhibition titled 'Out of India,' that showcases contemporary Indian art works from well-known collections in the region, opened September 6 and will run through October 13, at the Asian Arts Galley of the Center for the Arts of Towson University.

The groundbreaking exhibition that will provide a glimpse of contemporary Indian art over the past century will display over 40 pieces from India's post independence era by artists like Akhilesh, Manjit Bawa, Jyoti Bhatt, Shobha Broota, Shruti Gupta Chandra, Laxma Goud, M F Husain, Arpana Kaur, Paresh Maity, S H Raza, Jamini Roy and G R Santosh

Kakali 'Koli' Banik, who organised the exhibition and will be the guest curator, told rediff India Abroad that "all thanks are due to Dr Mahinder Tak who provided me with all of the generous help and support." She added that Dr Tak of Bethesda, Maryland, a well-known art collector had provided much of her collection for the exhibition.

Other lenders to the exhibition besides Dr Tak are Erik Bertin, Pradman and Sunita Kaul, John and Berthe Ford, Dr Joythi Gadde, Anita Gupta, Samir and Puja Kaul, Neera Singh, Pradeep Victor, Tara Reddi, and the Marlborough Gallery.

Banik, who last September curated the exhibition titled 'Partitions: Contemporary Paintings from Pakistan and India,' which was sponsored by the Asia Society's Washington Center, which brought together an eclectic group of contemporary arts from South Asia, said, not only was 'Out of India' a first for Baltimore, but also "for Towson University's Asian Arts and Culture Center -- which has been open to the public since 1971."

She noted that "this is the only dedicated space to Asian art in the state of Maryland," and in recounting the genesis of how this exhibition came about, said, "The director, Suewhei Shieh attend the Asian Society Partitions exhibition that I had curated last year and she told me that she had not had an exclusive Indian contemporary art exhibition and wanted me to do one this fall."

"We then started making arrangements and I started contacting area collectors to see their collections and to see which pieces they would lend for the exhibition, "Banik said, but acknowledged that "this was such a struggle since many collectors in the area were not willing to lend their works."

But, she said, this was when Dr Tak had stepped in "and she not only gave me access to her collection but also gave me exposure to many of her collector friends and I was able to visit their collections and then borrow some of their pieces."

"Dr Tak provided me the guidance for this exhibition and wanted to make sure the show has pieces from the Progressive Artists Group, including, F N Souza, M F Husain, as well as masters like Paresh Maity, Shuvaprasanna, Arpana Kaur, Shobha Broota and Kalicharan Gupta. We also also exhibiting a piece from Manjit Bawa for the first time."

"I am very excited about this opportunity and especially working with Dr Tak which has been a true pleasure, because essentially I am not an art historian or trained in Indian art. I am basically self-taught. I have a PhD in education and am working at the World Bank right now, but this has been a hobby of mine and I have always wanted to curate a show of this calibre," she said.

Banik explained that with Dr Tak's help each painter and each painting has been carefully selected to show both the variety and the scale of Indian contemporary art, "and in some of these pieces one finds traditional emblems of Indian art and culture, such as Krishna with his enchanted flute, Bollywood film starts, and abstract images commonly associated with tantric philosophy."

"In other cases, one may observe that there is nothing in these pieces to suggest that they were created by artists living and working in the subcontinent."

But she said whether their subject matter is traditional or abstract, "all of these artists have been strongly influenced by modern art practices including the techniques of post-impressionism, expressionism, surrealism, cubism, and primitivism."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC