Exhibition of rebel artist BM Anand’s work to open next month

Project to run as collateral to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016

Kochi: Select artworks by late modern painter and illustrator, Brij Mohan Anand (1928-1986) – an artist whose work registered a singular voice of protest against neo-imperialism, cultural indoctrination, nuclear warfare and the capitalist system – will be showcased at an exhibition in Kochi next month.

Titled ‘Dissent and Discourse: The Art and Politics of Brij Mohan Anand’, the exhibition will run as a collateral project to the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) that opens on 12/12/2016.

Curated by young researcher and writer, Shruthi Issac, the exhibition will showcase evocative pieces by the non-conformist Delhi artist in diverse mediums: scratchboard, oil, watercolour, ink and pencil and will explore the notion of dissent and its significance in public discourse, creativity and progress.

“Creativity and progress are necessary concomitants of dissent and India has had a strong tradition of accommodating dissent since the Vedic period. Our plurality and indeed our evolution and progress is the direct result of this accommodation, says Issac. “The exhibition is particularly relevant today when there is a debate over the significance and the need to allow dissent in Indian art and politics,” she adds.

“Anand engaged deeply with the study of the human condition within a materialist world and spoke up on issues concerning the world as a global community. Unlike his contemporaries and other post Independence artists such as FN Souza, MF Husain and SH Raza, who were engaged with the formal and metaphysical aspects of art, Anand’s work spoke to the politics of his time and reflected his antipathy towards imperialism, neo-colonialism, nuclear warfare and the cultural propaganda of the West.” Issac explains.

Anand’s surviving works are estimated at 1,500, ranging from scratchboards, landscapes, watercolours and sketches to commercial illustrations for books, posters, newspapers and magazines. Anand’s works and life have recently been the subject of a meticulously researched book, Narratives for Indian Modernity: The Aesthetic of Brij Mohan Anand(Harper Collins 2016) co-authored by biographer and writer, Aditi Anand and art historian, Dr Grant Pooke with a Foreword by Dr Alka Pande.

“Brij Mohan Anand’s surviving oeuvre represents a rare documentation of India’s emergence from Partition and Independence and its development into a Modern Nation State,” says Aditi Anand who is also the Associate Director of the BM Anand Foundation. “His is a distinctive voice of the subaltern, which unequivocally challenged the prevailing cultural and political narrative in the India of his time”.

“Through its collaboration with the Biennale, the Foundation hopes to elevate this underrepresented but important historical voice, to mark the beginning of an alternate discourse on India’s modernity and to contribute towards giving voice and value to the notions of social responsibility, public action and free thought,” Anand says.

The exhibition of ten scratchboards, ten scratchboard sketches, three sets of thirteen drawings and one ink and watercolor on paper pays tribute to an artist who for nearly four decades attempted to initiate a dialogue on behalf of the subaltern through the making of art and a differed reading of the rapid technological and economic modernization of India and it’s nuclear ambitions during the Cold War.

“The exhibition will be the first of its kind in acknowledging a Modern Indian master who sustained his passion for and commitment to, what he perceived as an artist’s responsibility within society and to the philosophy that art should directly reflect and in the process, affect the modern world,” says Curator, Shruthi Issac.

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