The Figure in Modern Art of India
March 4 - April 29, 1995
April 1995 New York- K.S. Kulkarni is generally regarded as a patriarch of modern Indian art. As was the case with other artists of his generation, Kulkarni's career in painting began on the urban billboard of India. He studied at the Sir J. J. School of Art in Bombay from 1935-1942. He was a political activist during the Quit India movement in 1942. Immediately after Indian independence, Kulkarni revolted against the sentimental nationalism in the art of the Bengal School and its wide sphere of influence. In 1947 and 1948 respectively, he founded the Delhi Silpi Chakra and the Triveni Kala Sangam which became the avant-garde platforms in Delhi for the exchange of ideas among young artists of the fifties and sixties. These institutions would become critically important in the support of the vigorous new art of a new generation of artists in a new India. With independence won, the link between modernism and imperialism was finally broken, and art rooted in Indian soil could safely reach towards a modern idiom. Kulkarni fostered this reach and came to have a major influence upon the Delhi art scene after independence, and later upon the contemporary art scene throughout post-independence India.
Kulkarni's most important contributions to 20th Century Indian art are his figure compositions. In his treatment of the human figure, he was significantly influenced by medieval Indian sculpture, especially the sensuous nudes of Khajuraho, as well as the classical Indian postures depicted in the frescoes of the Ajanta and Ellora caves. Kulkarni offers a modern interpretation of the classical Indian figure. Indeed, it was this modelling of the human figure in classical postures and the symbolic use of brilliant color to fill pictorial space that have defined the art of modern India as a unique and fascinating component of the international art scene in the 20th Century.
© Bose Pacia 2013