London exhibition updates: 20th – 30th March, 2012

/ Monday, April 2nd, 2012 / No Comments »

Kangra paintings produced by a new generation of artists from the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh were exhibited in the heart of London at the Nehru Centre. The exhibition which ran from the 20th of March to the 30th of March, 2012 in Mayfair in Central London was inaugurated by Lord Matthew Evans of Temple Guiting from the County of Gloucestershire.

Lord Evans is the former Managing Director and Chairman of Faber and Faber, Chairman of the Royal Court Theatre, as well as Vice Chairman of the British Film Institute. Lord Evans in his inaugural address lauded efforts such as the exhibition to promote the arts and culture and later spoke to media about his own involvement with artists, writers, filmmakers and publishers in England. Smt. Sangeeta Bahadur, Minister (Culture) and Director, of The Nehru Centre delivered the welcome address.

The distinctive feature of this exhibition is that it features the work of a new generation of artists, which the Kangra Arts Promotion Society (KAPS) has been training in this traditional art form. Five Benches, another not for profit organization from Himachal brought the exhibition to London. Five Benches is working towards expanding the scope of literary and cultural discourse in Himachal and helping promote Himachali culture in different parts of the World. The State Bank of India in the UK was the main sponsor of the exhibition.

The traditional Kangra Paintings represent one of the finest miniature painting styles from India. This great art originated in a small hill state ‘Guler’ in the Lower Himalayas in the first half of the eighteenth century when a family of Kashmiri painters trained in Mughal Style of painting sought shelter at the court of Raja Dalip Singh (r. 1695-1741) of Guler.

The new arrivals mingled with the local artists and were greatly influenced by the atmosphere of the hills. Instead of painting flattering portraits of their masters and love scenes, the artistes adopted themes of eternal love between Radha and Krishna. The paintings were naturalistic and employed cool, fresh colors. The colors were extracted from minerals, vegetables and possessed enamel-like luster. Verdant greenery of the landscape, brooks, springs were the recurrent images on the miniatures.

Five Benches and KAPS believe the exhibition will be a huge boost to this new generation of artists and will help breathe new life into this beautiful and significant part of Himachali culture. Anuj Kapoor from Five Benches Society thanked the Chief Guest and all the guests at the inauguration and mentioned that the exhibition illustrated how collaborations between small societies could produce significant results at relatively small costs and bring genuine value to communities and the broader society they service.


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