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Akar Prakar Opens a New Exhibition in Kolkata

Nandalal Bose, Akar Prakar, Kolkata
Curated by Debdutta Gupta
January 27-February 28

Nandalal Bose (1882-1966) was perpetually drawing on cards and postcards. However, the pursuit of this activity was not just limited to him. He had instilled, both in his students as well as fellow professors, this practice of postcard drawing. Thus everyone, teachers and students alike, would remain engrossed in this vocation.

Most of Nandalal's cards are executed in monochrome-free from the bindings of colour. This approach set him apart from his Guru, Abanindranath Tagore. According to Abanindranth Tagore, lines are the containers within which colors are held. He was of the view that it was primarily through color that a painting could be brought to life. Nandalal, on the other hand, was extremely inquisitive about the many possibilities of lines. He found validation for his search in his encounter with Arai Kampo-leading him further towards his journey of monochromatic works.

It was his travels to East Asia that eventually paved the way for his huge body of work in brush and ink and strengthened his belief that black and white contain within them the potentialities of all the other colors. The printmaking techniques which became integral to the pedagogic practices of Kala Bhavana were also a result of Nandalal's travels to China and Japan. He had brought back with him various ukiyo-e prints and wood blocks.

In this current exhibition, Akar Prakar attempts to highlight how cards/postcards bring out tangents of Nandalal Bose that have remained unnoticed otherwise. This exhibition brings to light Nandalal’s departure from the earlier influence of Abanindranath Tagore to the influences that Ramakrishna, Rabindranath and Gandhi had on his art practice. It also highlights Nandalal’s search for spirituality within nature and the establishment of the Asian aesthetic mode. The exhibition thus showcases how all these tangents are present throughout his works and some of the best can be found in his cards and postcards.