2011: A Year Where Indian Art Lost Giants

Annie Samson/New Delhi
2011: A Year Where Indian Art Lost Giants
Sorrow was overarching sentiment in the year for Indian art as it witnessed the death of two stalwarts - M F Husain and Jehangir Sabavala - bringing to an end an illustrious period.

While Husain, an ex-cinema billboard painter who became a globally sought after artist, died in self-exile in London in June at the age of 95, modern painter Sabavala, who mixed impressionist and cubist styles, died September at 89 years.

Also, Sohan Qadri and Biren De, two prominent names in the field of art passed away. While artist poet Qadri renowned for his tantrik ideology died in Toronto in March, De, known for his geometric,luminous paintings died the same month here.

All was not gloom this year as India welcomed S H Raza's homecoming after 60 years of stay in Paris. The 89-year-old was a member of the Progressive art movement with Husain, F N Souza and V S Gaitonde among others.

The year heralded several new beginnings; Officials of the Louvre in Paris, one of the world's most visited museum visited India at the year end to explore partnerships for its maiden voyage into the country.

In June an exclusive Indian pavilion showcased at Venice Biennale supported by Ministry of Culture and Lalit Kala Akademi. Additionaly,

there are plans to set up first Indian  art Biennale in January 2012 - directed by artists Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari.

The year began with the 3rd India Art Summit, a three-day event that saw drama when M F Husain's works were installed then brought down and subsequently remounted with security. A bigger edition with new partners is scheduled in 2012.

Chennai hosted its first international art fair in the month of March. "Art Chennai" featured over 2000 works by contemporary artists spread over 18 sites in the city. The India Art Collective- an Internet-based art fair- was launched in November.

Leading names from the art world paid a visit to India; Swiss curator Hans Obrist interviewed 25 intellectuals back-to-back in an eight-hour marathon organised by Khoj.

British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor's first retrospective in India at National Gallery of Modern Art's new wing here and Mehboob studio in Mumbai showcased three decades of his work.

One of the largest museums in America, The Art Institute of Chicago, is developing a major exhibition on royal arts of Jaipur, sourcing centuries-old royal art work from collections at Delhi's National Museum, London's Victoria Albert Museum and the Palace Museum and Albert Museums of Jaipur.

"We are beginning a monumental exhibition on the royal art from Jaipur in Chicago in the year 2013," President and Director, ARTIC, James Cuno told PTI during his visit here.

Meanwhile China is finalising plans to build a museum at Rabindranath Tagore's family residence in Kolkata to introduce the bard's writings, paintings and other work done during his visits to the neighbouring country.

At a book launch function in Delhi Chinese ambassador to India Zhang Yan said he had visited Tagore's home in Jorasanko in Kolkata to finalise the location of setting up of the "small museum that will introduce Tagore's works in China."

A new crop of artists from India showed across the world; Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art hosted "Indian Highway IV" and is traveling to Europe, South America and Asia. The Paris Centre Pompidou showed "Paris Delhi Bombay", between May and September. MORE

A photography show at Paris's Galerie Duboys, "This is not That," opened in May showcasing the work of several Indian photographers to an European audience.

The World Economic Forum at Davos displayed Mahatama Gandhi statues at various venues, and the Davos city council approved setting up a permanent Gandhi monument there.

"Indian artists Ram and Anil Sutar are working with The Itinerant Museum of Art to create a Gandhi monument for Davos to make Mahatma the 'Spirit of Davos'," Fernando Morales-de la Cruz, museum founder told PTI.

Similarly international artists showed in the country; The Kalighat paintings, brought in by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London toured India and the museum plans to display 50

Of Rabindranath Tagore's paintings from period 1928 to 1939 in London from December this year to March 2012.

In 2012, the V&A is scheduled to host a show of Indian design called 'India Design Now', which will be curated by the museum and the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad.

In April an exhibition "Oriental Scenery-Yesterday and Today" at IGNCA in Delhi featured aqua-tints by Thomas and William Daniel who in 18th century documented life in India. A photo exhibition was shown simultaneously by Italian lensman Antonio Martinelli, who retraced uncle-nephew duo's voyage.

Works by Stefan Norblin, a 20th century artist from Poland, who received patronage and commissions from royalty during his stay in India was shown at the NGMA here.

As part of "Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities", Yamuna – Elbe: Public.Art.Outreach project was held in Delhi and Hamburg.

New spaces for art opened up in this year; The Lalit Kala Akademi opened a new gallery to provide more space for exhibitions in the national capital.

"Yeh Image Mahaan- India meets Bharat", an exhibition documenting the new vibrant languages of art emanating from India, put together by Kolkata-based private art gallery CIMA, became the first show at the new Akademi gallery in January.

The Kiran Nadar Musuem of Art (KNMA), a contemporary art museum hosting the private art collection of Kiran Nadar opened a new exhibition space in a mall at the heart of Delhi.

Online auctioneer Saffronart that has physical galleries in Mumbai and New York set up shop in a 5 star hotel here.

A new art gallery, Contemplate, in Coimbatore by Rajshree Pathy has created an art museum and art institute, that are expected to fully functional by the year 2012.

Art Heritage, the gallery set up by theatre legend Ebrahim Alkazi ventured into photography through a new exclusive permanent gallery space "Photo Room" in Delhi.

The Art Positive gallery, part of the Bajaj Capital Art House, has been redesigned to add another floor.

A clutch of prizes were bagged by Indian artists; Delhi- based Mithu Sen won the first Rs 1 million Skoda Award for Indian contemporary art.

Another Delhi-based Gauri Gill won the USD 50,000 Grange Prize, a prestigious contemporary photography award in Canada.

Artist Sheba Chhachhi won the 45,000 Singapore dollar art prize by Singapore Museum for her public art installation.

The Osian's auction house revived this year and has lined up auctions next year.
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