A group exhibition showcasing the works of Sanat Kar, Ganesh Haloi, Jogen Chowdhury, Sibaprasad Karchaudhuri, Sunil De, Goutam Chowdhury, Ashok Bhowmik, Tapas Konar, Tarun Dey, Pradip Rakshit, Samir Aich, Amitava Dhar, Pankaj Panwar, Samindra Majumdar and Debasish Bhattacharyya.

August 16th to October 6th 2022

In many ways, the Art of Bengal has been about the experience of living through the ever-changing socio-political story of the region. World War II and the famine of the 1940s had not only made the Bengali acutely aware of the horrors of war, but also the violence of hunger. But before those wounds could heal, new ones were inflicted by the partition, neutralising to a large extent the joy of gaining Independence.

With the influx of refugees, Calcutta bloated up, becoming chaotic – an ungovernable sea of human indignity and suffering. Remnants of past glory and present decay, indifference and compassion, coexisted side by side in its streets and in the minds of its people. The morbid insipidness of the era left marks on the artists as a burning kerosene lamp casts sooty stains on the surrounding globe of glass. The promise of a bright future was anticipated, but only shadows danced around it as the light was swathed by darkness. In this prolonged impasse, the struggles of men and women in the streets and within the four walls of the house took centre stage.

Before the life-struggles of 1950s and 60s could ease, the rural unrest that was simmering since the days of colonialism and the unresolved, yet significant Permanent Settlement policy led to a violent outburst in the form of extremist armed revolt. While the epicentre of the revolt was in rural Naxalbari, it found resounding reverberations in the cities, especially in Calcutta where the agrarian conflict stirred sympathy and support from the youth. However, efforts for a social change through a violent outrage were met with even disproportionate violence from the state.

The darkness that descended on Bengal in the late 60s and early 70s reeked of hunger and gunpowder, as it slowly seeped into the canvases of the artists of the time. Even those who had dreamt of a radical social restructuring earlier were left disconcerted. If some of the earlier artists had taken recourse to nostalgia, memories and wholeness of the past, the younger generation had no such way out. The fragmented life of decay, despair and death triggered an unredeemable alienation.

A group exhibition showcasing the works of