Less mature disciples did stray into ‘mannerism’, but those who got
teaching positions in government art colleges, were able to influence the
future generations.
Amrita Sher-Gil
Amrita Sher-Gil, who returned to Shimla from the Ecole des Beaux Arts
in Paris, injected a new dynamism into the Indian art scene.
Her main theme – the life of village India – was projected in
compositions, which vividly synthesized Indian and post-impressionist
styles, particularly that of Gaugin.
Sher-Gil pointed to the rich variety of content available to Indian artists
in their immediate environment, and taught them the importance of
technical ‘painterly’ values in art.
Calcutta Group
But the most radical change came later, with the formation in 1943 of the
Calcutta group of artists against a background of violent social and
political upheaval—war, famine and widespread political and sectarian
Prominent artists like Paritosh Sen, Rathin Maitra, Sunil Madhav Sen,
Gopal Ghosh, Subho Tagore, Nirode Majumdar and others, expressed
their protest in their own distinctive voices.
The group broke up in 1953, when the members started to leave one by
one for Paris—the artists’ Eldorado. When some of them returned after
long periods, the momentum was gone.
Progressive Artists’ Group
In 1948 the Progressive Artists’ Group with F. N. Souza, Ara, Bakre,
Gade, M. F. Hussain and S. H. Raza among its founder-members was
started in Bombay.
Though not unified by a single aesthetic, these artists wished to escape the
limits of both ‘colonial’ academic art and the ‘nationalist’ revival of the
Bengal School. Wanting to express their originality in a modern idiom,
they looked towards the contemporary international art scene for
exploratory exposure.
Souza and Raza left the country shortly afterwards, but held frequent
shows in India. Bakre followed.