Modern art masters have often been revered by those art connoisseurs who are among the older generation. But among the young gen, it’s rare to see a heightened interest for artworks by legends, who defined the modern art scene in India. It is to satiate their increasing curiosity and fascination, as well as to celebrate the legacy of the masters that National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), near India Gate, recently opened two exhibitions at its new galleries.
Inaugurated as part of the celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, which commemorates 75 years of India’s independence, these art spaces have been witnessing quite a few history buffs. “Visiting these galleries has been quite an educational journey. It’s one thing to read about the artist and another to see their work in person,” says Avitanshu, a first-year student of BCom (Hons) at Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, Delhi University, while exploring the museum with his friends.
The gallery at Jaipur House is displaying an exhibition named Khsetragya: The Illuminated. It documents the artistic journey of national treasures such as works of Rabindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, Raja Ravi Varma, Benode Behari Mukherjee and Amrita Sher-Gil. The second gallery, in the block next to the administration building within NGMA, is showcasing an exhibition titled Hastantaran: In Transmission. It celebrates the artistic and spiritual journey of Nandalal Bose (1882-1966) while exploring how his artworks traversed through diverse mediums, from murals to lithographs and panel paintings done for the Haripura session of the Congress (in 1938).
To attract a diverse and inclusive audience, the majestic dome of the Jaipur House is lit with a digital projection of artworks by the modern masters, which are also three-dimensionally projected on its outer arena. Avitanshu, adds: “The amalgamation of audio and video amplified the experience for us. You don’t always understand what you are looking at. But having a video with someone narrating the works, adds to the viewers’ keenness to know more. It has also set the bar of a museum experience, quite high!”
Echoing a similar sentiment, Edith Dawa, a post graduation student of archaeology in a Greater Noida-based university, shares, “Adding the audio and video aspects to the gallery has truly enhanced the experience. Watching works of Nicholas Roerich (Russian painter and archaeologist), on the Himalayas, with the swishing sound of mountain winds in the background is an experience that cannot be explained in words. One needs to be here to experience it, as you are not only looking at the painting but also feeling one with it. The same goes for the atmosphere created for paintings of sculptor Ramkinkar Baij, which depicts a complete village displayed on bamboo structures, weaved with yarn. One look at this display and you get the whole rural village vibes.”
“They (youngsters) are not just witnessing the artworks, but sharing in the experience. This is why we have incorporated for example, old wood, mud walls and similar lighting in Nandalal Bose’s exhibit that showcases the influence of Mahatma Gandhi on Bose,” opines Adwaita Gadanayak, director general of NGMA. He emphasises that in order to enhance the viewing experience of the visitors, the galleries have been curated with a rich mix of images, videos and sounds. “Creating a holistic experience will help viewers connect intimately with art. One must present the treasures of the past in a contemporary manner, to build new experiences for the young generation and bring forth a positive atmosphere,” adds Gadanayak.
Author tweets @AngelaPaljor