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Death and violence on master frames

art and culture Updated: Jul 11, 2009 17:44 IST
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History, violence, death and suffering have met in a theatre of colours and mediums in one of the darkest exhibitions of art the capital has ever witnessed.

The Jashn-Osianama, an exhibition at the Visual Arts Gallery at the India Habitat Centre comprising nearly 800 classical art works from the Mumbai-based Osian's Archive and Library Collection, is a document of "500 years of violence-non violence" in Indian art.

The exhibition opened July 4 and closes July 21.

The show - almost a journey through time - begins with a spread of Buddhist art, Japanese artefacts, company paintings and Pahadi and Rajasthan miniatures dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

A canvas by Raja Ravi Varma showing the "Maharaja of Travancore and His Younger Brother welcoming Richard Grenville, the third Duke of Buckingham", stands out for its meticulous details and documentation of the historic event. The rare painting was acquired by Osian's at a Bonham's auction in London a couple of years ago.

The company art section also includes a series on Tipu Sultan and his wars against the British imperial forces.

The early Raj era makes way for the great famines post Independence captured by photographer-artist Chittoprasad in stark sepia frames.

The horror of famines is followed by violence and pain - best chronicled in a series of six oil paintings by Jamini Roy titled, Crucifixion.

Roy, known as the "urban patua" painter of traditional Bengal style breaks away from his traditional figures to draw Christ in the Bengal terracotta tradition. Jesus looks like a Bengali deity from Bankura with red palms and stylized eyes.

F.N. Souza's series on Crucifixion comprising eight oil and charcoal paintings is in contrast modern, where Christ is a ravaged man on the Cross.

"Since childhood, death has fascinated oneself," said Nevile Tuli, the founder of Osian's. "But we must learn to dissolve the lines and rise with new fearlessness and compassion. The exhibition is just another step in the direction."