“Dissent and Discourse”: Award-winning filmmaker Shaji N. Karun inaugurates exhibition of rebel artist

Interactive exhibition on Brij Mohan Anand will run as collateral event
to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016


Kochi, Dec 14: An exhibition featuring a selection of evocative artworks by the rebel artist Brij Mohan Anand (1928-1986) – whose oeuvre stands as a voice of protest against crass commercialisation and capitalism, cultural indoctrination, gender inequality and nuclear warfare – was inaugurated here today.

Titled ‘Dissent & Discourse: the Art and Politics of Brij Mohan Anand’, the exhibition will be on show till March 29 next year as  a collateral programme to the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) at Greenix Village Cultural Arts Centre in Fort Kochi. It will be open from 11.00 am to 7.00 pm daily.

Inaugurating the exhibition – which delves into notions of dissent and its importance in public discourse, creativity and progress, celebrated filmmaker and cinematographer Shaji N. Karun noted it was the responsibility of the artist to address and decipher seminal moments in, and memories of, time.

“It is perhaps the work of such hitherto undiscovered artists as B.M. Anand that best capture the prevailing spirit of the times as seen from the perspective of the common people. The strong humanistic theme in his artworks is a reflection of their commitment to social change,” Karun said.

“The rediscovery or the re-identification of his greatness will rank as one of the highlights of this Biennale season. The artworks were precious in the maturing of national consciousness, especially through the egalitarian notions of art and time,” he added.

The Foundation’s co-founders Neeraj Gulati and Kriti Anand, the artist’s daughter, presented the official catalogue to Karun.

The selection of works features evocative, often apocalyptic, pieces in diverse mediums. There are, in all, 10 scratchboards, 10 scratchboard sketches, three sets of 13 drawings, one ink and watercolour on paper and a single oil on canvas.

Curated by young researcher and writer Shruthi Issac, the exhibition is a sampling of the estimated 1,500 surviving works by BM Anand – from scratchboards, landscapes, watercolours and sketches to commercial illustrations for books, posters, newspapers and magazines. His acts of dissent took the form of greeting cards, paintings and scratchboards that were sent to the governments of the day.

 “The art of Brij Mohan Anand is the art of dissent. He was not cowed down by criticism and was unafraid to address a myriad of political, social and cultural concerns: from geo-political developments to the deteriorating condition of the farmer and labourers in a rapidly industrial society. In this, he was far ahead of his time. Unlike his contemporaries and other post-Independence artists whose practices engaged with formal aspects of art, Anand’s art is a reflection of a developing India and presents an important story told of and from the margins of Indian modern art history,” Issac said.

His life story and production have recently been the subject of a meticulously researched book, Narratives for Indian Modernity: The Aesthetic of Brij Mohan Anand, co-authored by biographer and writer Aditi Anand and art historian Dr Grant Pooke with a Foreword by Dr Alka Pande.

“BM Anand was a profoundly talented artist and a distinctive voice. His work provides us a very rare documentation on the period of India’s transition from colony to modern state and the trajectory of national consciousness as it was shaped over his lifetime,” said Aditi Anand, who is the Associate Director of the BM Anand Foundation.

“The Foundation hopes to utilise the powerful platform provided by the Kochi-Muziris Biennale to elevate an underappreciated and initiate an alternate discourse on India’s modernity,” she said.
 

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