Past Exhibition

Of Masters And Heroes

"September 27 - October 31, 2013"

It is with a conscious intention that this momentous exhibition has been given its rather theatrical title - Of Masters and Heroes - with no genre-specific or medium-specific indications. The title is intended to provoke questions. For instance, how do we define a 'master'? Is he/she one who has attained a unanimously-accepted level of brilliance in the rendering of technique with the perfect projection of aesthetics? Or is he/she one who has been creating art under a preferred theme and technique for many decades? Or is he/she one who is able to rule the commercial realm of art, by being able to sell his/her art for an unbelievable or reasonable price? It is a tricky situation of judgment, which is not going to bring about an answer that is of irrefutable satisfactory. However, just like art itself, these questions and possible answers are destined to rely on subjectivity. One cannot deny that subjectivity is as synonymous as creativity is to the understanding of art and art-makers. And this is what makes the art by six dynamic artists of this much-awaited exhibition a treat from every possible perspective. At this juncture, it will not be justifiable if one does not present a worthy mention of Gnana's well-deserved status as one of Singapore's celebrated artists, whose aesthetic affair with the cow-imagery has become an international phenomenon. Moreover, Viswam's pulsating, vivacious abstracts and Manoharan's poignant portrayal of the curious goat stand true to nothing less that magnificence at its core.

However, as we honour Dakshinamoorthy, Pon Ragunathan and Perumal as modern masters, whose 'modern' are we referring to? There are numerous specificities within the scope of modernity in art - the artist-specific, the nation-specific, the city-specific, the medium-specific, the technique-specific, the genre-specific, the event-specific and even the sentiment-specific. In the context of this exhibition, the term ‘modern’ denotes, not a chronological reference to what is believed to be the period of modern art in the conveniently-general context (1800 to 1970s, in the European art-historical perspective), but a prudent combination of the genre-specific and the artist-specific perspectives. The modern masters of this exhibition belong to a generation of progressive artists of the late 1950s and the early 1960s in Madras (current Chennai), the artistic centre of South India. The nature of the modernity in the art that was created in South India (Madras, in particular) during this time was indeed a very purposeful, meticulously-conceived expression of traditional idioms in a grammar that was relatively new or from a perspective that was contextually or conceptually different from the norm. It is in this very spirit that the masters of this exhibition embraced and continue to embrace the modernity in the art that they create so magnificently, bringing about a symbiosis between masterly renditions of technical skill within the framework of religio-mythological iconography and a strong sense of freedom in the re-contextualisation of traditional modes into a modern grammar, that speaks to the viewer in the international arena.


The Green Canvas

"May 21 - June 21, 2018",

New Delhi