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Saturday, March 06, 2021

Exhibition explores ‘the gaze’ of Indian artists

While a number of artworks explore the nude body -- including the male nude -- the gaze is not avaricious but is intended to be part of a narrative that takes humanitarianism into account

By: PTI | New Delhi |
February 16, 2021 8:50:09 pm
Bringing back into focus concepts such as scopophilia or the pleasure of looking at something or someone with reference to the gazer and the gazed, the show explores the subtle distinctions in the ways the artists of both sexes create and experience art. (Photo: PR handout)

Decoding generations of Indian artists’ visual approach towards their subjects and muses is the focus of an ongoing exhibition here.

Titled Ways of Seeing, presented by DAG (formerly Delhi Art gallery), the show that opened earlier this month, features 180 works by both female and male artists across generations, like Nandalal Bose, Amrita Sher-Gil, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Jamini Roy among others.

According to DAG, the month-long show has brought back into focus concepts such as “scopophilia” or the pleasure of looking at something or someone with reference to the gazer and the gazed”.

“The show explores the subtle distinctions in the ways the artists of both sexes create and experience art,” the gallery said in a statement.

Sunayani Devi’s Untitled. (Photo: PR Handout)

The show has been divided into two parts; while the first features “Women Artists”, the other comprises works that have “Women as Muse’.

Women Artists’ begins with the unheralded but important Sunayani Devi and Devyani Krishna and goes on to showcase works by 26 artists in all including Mrinalini Mukherjee, B Prabha, Madhvi Parekh, Anupam Sud, Gogi Saroj Pal, Navjot, Arpana Caur, and Rekha Rodwittiya.

While a number of artworks explore the nude body — including the male nude — the gaze is not avaricious but is intended to be part of a narrative that takes humanitarianism into account.

‘Women as Muse’ featuring 40 artists including, M V Dhurandhar, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, D P Roy Chowdhury, George Keyt, K H Ara, F N Souza, Krishen Khanna, M F Husain, and Jogen Chowdhury, focus only on their studies of women as a subject.

For the making of this exhibition, DAG looked at two aspects that define the gaze. Women artists, their examinations of their own bodies, and the territories of art they occupy would have remained incomplete without the male artists and their surveillance of the female body.

Amrita Sher-Gil’s Trees (Photo: PR Handout)

“It was necessary to confine the work of these artists with reference to women, suggesting a skew that does not necessarily denote their wider canvas of work or view, but was essential to establish the confrontation between the male gaze and the female gaze as real and evident,” said Ashish Anand, DAG CEO.

The period covered in the exhibition parallels each other in both sections with artists born in the second half of the nineteenth century all the way to those born in the mid-twentieth century, a time when art practice in the country saw experimentation with subjects, genres, and mediums making it ideal for understanding the differences between the male and the female gaze in both the artist and the viewer, the gallery said.

The show is set to continue till March 7.

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