Revisit the art of 19th century master MV Dhurandhar, at the NGMA
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Revisit the art of 19th century master MV Dhurandhar, at the NGMA

A major retrospective exhibition titled ...The Romantic Realist features 238 exhibits, including paintings, sketches, book illustrations and photographs.

mumbai Updated: Sep 08, 2018 21:44 IST
Krutika Behrawala
Krutika Behrawala
Hindustan Times
MV Dhurandhar,Mumbai exhibition,Bombay Art Society
Scene at a Hindu wedding. You can see the true mastery of Dhurandhar in his crowds, where each person has a distinct face, intricately detailed outfit, and even body language. (DAG Collection/Sangli Museum )
MV Dhurandhar: The Romantic Realist
  • WHERE: National Gallery of Modern Art, MG Road, Fort
  • WHEN: September 10 to October 13 (closed on Sundays)
  • Entry is free

In 1892, Mahadeo Vishwanath Dhurandhar made a charcoal drawing of two women chatting while doing chores - one chopping potatoes, the other picking gravel out of rice. A junior student at the JJ School of Art then, he submitted this painting, titled Household Work, for the Bombay Art Society’s fourth exhibition, considered a major social event then.

This work was not only selected but received an award of Rs 50, instituted by JN Tata, making Dhurandhar (1867-1944) the first Indian to receive this award.

Discover this drawing at a major retrospective exhibition titled MV Dhurandhar: The Romantic Realist, that opens next week.

The exhibition traces Dhurandhar’s versatility as a Realist. (National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi)

The show, presented by the National Gallery of Modern Art in collaboration with DAG, features 238 exhibits, including paintings, sketches, book illustrations and photographs. It will also showcase rare archival material like the gold medals he received, the easel he used and the chair he sat on when he painted.

“Dhurandhar was the most prolific and important painter after Ravi Varma, but many aren’t aware of his contribution,” says Suhas Bahulkar, chairman of the advisory committee to NGMA Mumbai, who has conceptualised and curated the exhibition. “Since last year marked his 150th birth anniversary, it’s the right time to celebrate and showcase his work.”

The exhibition traces his versatility as a Realist, a style he learnt under then JJ principal John Griffiths. Dhurandhar joined the school as an art teacher and went on to become its first Indian director, in 1930.

The paintings reveal his mastery is depicting light and shadow and crowding his paintings with people, each with distinct features and body language.

Highlights include depictions of a procession at the time of Shivaji’s coronation, a scene from a Hindu wedding, portraits of a woman labourer and of a Parsi priest.

Radha and Krishna, 1915, an example of the artist’s skill at depicting the play of light and shadow. (DAG Collection)

The exhibits are from DAG’s extensive inventory, government museums in Kolhapur, Aundh and Sangli as well as the privately owned Swaraj Art Archive.

Several of his sketches will also be on display. A poignant one is of his first wife Bapubai’s lifeless body, titled ‘She is dead’, that he drew in the hospital room as she lay in front of him, having succumbed to the plague in 1898.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the launch of a book on the artist by Bahulkar. “Dhurandhar’s contribution to the Bombay School of Art has been forgotten,” says Kishore Singh, vice-president and curator at DAG. “His legacy was overtaken by the artists of the Progressive Artists’ Group and is in need of resurrection. This retrospective will help do that.”

First Published: Sep 08, 2018 21:44 IST