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A note on the issue: It takes a village to create art

We examine the impact of Impressionism on Indian artists, who fused it with indigenous ideas and modernism to create a unique style

Detail from ‘Foot Bridge’ (1951) by K.C.S Paniker, who abandoned elements of Impressionism in favour of indigenous modernism—which formed the basis of the Madras Art Movement

By Shalini Umachandran

LAST PUBLISHED 27.04.2024  |  08:24 AM IST

Artists are often considered isolated iconoclasts but contrary to popular belief, they’re quite a sociable bunch. Artists V. Viswanathan and S.G. Vasudev, as well as the late sculptor S. Nandagopal, have hilarious and moving stories about the founding of Cholamandal Artists’ Village—the home of the Madras Art Movement of the 1960s; stories that are testament to the support they provided one another. In Mumbai, members of the Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG), formed a few decades earlier in 1947, may not have lived in each other’s houses but they had a similar camaraderie and shared sentiments about the direction of art in a newly independent country. In Paris, about a hundred years before PAG, another group of artists banded together, played with light and colour, and brought spontaneity to art by painting outdoors, picking everyday subjects, and infusing art with a sense of movement and brightness.

Without this kind of community, artists wouldn’t thrive, and without inspiration from the past, there is little new or original they could create, as our story marking the 150th anniversary of Impressionism shows. We examine the impact of Impressionism on Indian artists, who created a South Asian tradition that combined the best elements of Impressionism with indigenous ideas and modernism to create a unique style that runs through art practice to this day.

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Write to the Lounge editor shalini.umachandran@htlive.com 

@shalinimb

Also read: 150 years of Impressionism: How Indian artists reinterpreted the art movement