September 29, 2020 1:20:31 pm
When the Partition divided the nation into two separate entities, artist and sculptor and Vice-Principal of Mayo College of Art, Lahore, SL Parasher, like many others, had to leave his home empty-handed. Taking up the post of camp commander at the Baldev Nagar Refugee Camp near Ambala, the period saw him leave landscapes to draw the torment of Partition, even as most of his pre-Partition works were lost forever. Some of them though did find a saviour — artist Abdur Rahman Chughtai, who carefully sent some of his works across the border to him.
One of these rare works is being shared by the Parasher family in Partition Museum’s online exhibition titled “Memories Unlocked: Partition, Migration, Identity”. Titled “Guru Nanak, Continuous Light” the 1939-40 canvas shows Guru Nanak with his two disciples, Bhai Mardana and Bhai Bala. “It’s a spectacular painting and its own history is connected with the Partition,” says Kishwar Desai, chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust that set up the Partition Museum. She adds that the museum has several of Parasher’s works in its collection.
Apart from Parasher’s canvas, the exhibition also features more than 20 works of 16 prominent artists, including Krishen Khanna, Anjolie Ela Menon, Jogen Chowdhury, Paresh Maity, Arpana Caur, Jayasri Burman, Atul Bhalla, Viren Tanwar, Manisha Gera Baswani and Seema Kohli. “We wanted to have artists from all generations because even today we are impacted by the Partition and its memories,” says Desai.
While Chowdhury shares a 1958 sketch Refugees in Sealdah Rly Station, depicting refugees from East Bengal who had to leave home, Arpana Caur’s work Lost Histories portrays the displacement of her family at the time of the Partition. In a note describing her 2019 wrought iron installation Hybrid Fragments, Ayesha Singh states, “Each form, in this series, points toward histories of the movement of people via an appropriation of regional architectural forms, combining markers of kingdoms, colonies and the local. The works are site-specific and play on our memory through fragments of the built environment.”
View the exhibition at https://partitionmuseumexhibition.wordpress.com/
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