The “first major museum exhibition” focusing on works by Bombay’s Progressive Artists’ Group is being showcased at the Asia Society Museum in New York in the Fall of 2018. This major exhibition is being co-curated by South Asian art historian Zehra Jumabhoy – based on her doctoral research on Indian art and national identity – and Boon Hui Tan, Director of Asia Society Museum.
Some may ask who are “the Progressives” and “what is the show all about”? Well, the Progressive Artists’ Group consisted of some of the most prominent practitioners of Modern Indian art. It was founded in Bombay by MF Husain, FN Souza, SH Raza, KH Ara, SK Bakre and HA Gade. The group was also associated with VS Gaitonde, Krishen Khanna, Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee and Mohan Samant. The Progressive Artists’ Group was formed soon after India declared independence from British rule in 1947. Although a short lived one, as its members were largely dispersed by the 1950s, the Progressives sought to represent the values of a free nation. At a time of immense political and social unrest, they struggled to define a new art for a modern, secular republic.
Each of them expressing their own styles and drawing inspiration from multiple sources, their works today are revered all over the world and demand eye-watering prices at auction.
The exhibition will comprise works from many private collectors in India, UK and US, and it is the first time these works will be exhibited in this way. The icing on the cake will be some never seen before treasures being exhibited for the first time! The show is bound to attract collectors and art enthusiasts from all over the world and promises to be a landmark exhibition. Look out for my blog post from the show in NYC later this year.
(The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India, Asia Art Society, New York; From September 2018 to February 2019)
By Diane Bilimoria, London