Brij Mohan Anand Show to Throw Fresh Light on Time-Eclipsed Artist


Book release, round-table at the inaugural of 11-day show in IIC on May 12

New Delhi, May 10: The national capital is hosting a landmark exhibition of a maverick, anti-establishment painter-illustrator 30 years after his death, as hitherto-obscure works by Brij Mohan Anand will be on display at the India International Centre (IIC) starting May 12.

The 11-day show, ‘Narratives for Indian Modernity: The Aesthetic of Brij Mohan Anand’, will start with the release of a seminal book on the artist (1928-86) who was a trenchant critic of both Western imperialism and Indian militarism. The inaugural evening, in the presence of Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Dr Mahesh Sharma, will also see a round-table by experts from different parts of the country and abroad.

The exhibition curated by art scholar Dr. Alka Pande features more than 90 select works by the Left-leaning Anand, who made no attempt to sell his paintings; instead believed that art was a powerful medium of social and political commentary that can be used as a voice of dissent and a tool for advancing social justice.

The meticulously-researched book, also titled ‘Narratives for Indian Modernity: The Aesthetic of Brij Mohan Anand’, has been co-authored by writer-biographer Aditi Anand and British art historian Dr. Grant Pooke.

The book and the May 12-22 exhibition are the result of an accidental discovery of a massive tranche of lost works from the attic of Anand’s West Delhi home, revealed Neeraj Gulati, Founder, B.M. Anand Foundation, which is organizing the entire event in association with IIC. While Minister Dr Sharma will be the chief guest, filmmaker Imtiaz Ali will be the guest of honour.

The speakers at the round-table, to be moderated by Dr Pande, will be graphic artist-designer Orijit Sen, Pavan Kumar Varma, MP and director-actor-editor Sudhanva Deshpande besides the co-authors of the book and Imtiaz Ali.

The exhibition will feature 35 sketches, 14 scratchboards, three scratchboard sketches, five ink drawings, six Red Cross posters, 23 book covers and five oil-on-canvas paintings of B.M. Anand.

“I  have  chosen  from his  wide  range  of  almost  1,500  works  which are in the B.M. Anand foundation. They belong to almost every genre of his artistic practice,” added Dr. Pande, who is an independent curator.

Aditi (not related to the artist), who has co-authored the book, described Amritsar-born Anand as a highly talented and largely self -taught artist. “His starkly modernist figure compositions and apocalyptic landscapes reflect his defiant and politically subversive stance,” she added.

Dr. Pooke, who teaches in the UK’s University of Kent, said B.M Anand “appears to have retained” relations with the Communist Party of India throughout much of the adult life. “He lived to raise a family, was professionally respected and survived to see India’s maturation as a social democracy.

Anand, whose life and aesthetic intersected with some of the foundational events which defined and shaped modern Indian consciousness, died of cardiovascular complications at the age of 58.


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