At the British Council lobby in Delhi, an array of paintings dot the wall. The display ranges from the 1920s London Underground posters that caused the surge of avant garde movements, to the beginning of pop art by Eduardo Paolozzi, to Rachel Whitread’s poster of the 2012 London Olympics. The collection, titled “Show of Art Collection”, not only boasts different art forms such as etching, photography and acrylic painting, but also depicts how art has been pursued to represent ideas through the times.
Vivek Mansukhani, Arts Director, British Council, says , “Our aim is to select the best-suited artworks from an enormous collection of around 8,000 paintings to display in India.
We intend to exhibit great works of art by British artists as well as Indian artists who have some connection with the UK and display the best of both worlds.” The travelling collection, which has made a stop in Delhi till October 10, showcases the changes the field of art has witnessed over time.
The artworks evoke multiple emotions, each painting being singular in its style and form. Adrian Wiszniewski’s 1986-work Raven is reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven, with the subject of painting being a solitary man in macabre surroundings in dark tones of blue and much like Poe’s description in the poem. The painting evokes a sense of unease, bordering on fright.
In another corner of the lobby, hangs the colossal oil-on-canvas by Hurvin Anderson, Maracus II, depicting a landscape primarily in the shades of emerald and ochre combining the figurative and the abstract. Another wall displays the photographic works of Fay Godwin in rare colours. One can eventually relish contemporary works including the London 2012 Olympic posters by young artists who have secured a permanent place in the most recent British art.
In Band of Gold, Chila Kumari Burman — a British artist with Indian roots — explores the themes of gender, sexuality and class through an amalgamation of collage, print and paint in glittering tones of gold and red by using bindis, studs and mirrors. As a collection, the works combine to tell the story of evolution and transformation of art. The British Council has been collecting works of art since 1938 and having no permanent gallery, it is popularly known as a “Museum Without Walls”.