[12] The exhibition I flag here was a contextualization of the artist Jehangir Sabavala (1922- 2011) in terms of his early training at the Sir JJ School of Art, as against his better-known education at the Heatherley School of Art, London, and the Academie Andre Lhote, Paris. Bhanu Athaiya Photogallery. My entry point into the history of the JJ School of Art pedagogy will begin, perhaps to the bafflement of some readers, with Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939), a painter, illustrator, and graphic artist of Czech origin and a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire who had shaped his career in Paris in the late 19th century. Athaiya’s ingenious articulations of sartorial modernity by adapting old traditions and reimagining textile legacies is wonderfully manifest in Lot 30, Eve’s Weekly Spread Pages, a set of 14 prints, sized 17×26 inches, dated from February to June 1952, estimated at Rs 30,000-50,000, with a starting bid of Rs 3,000, unlike her oil on canvas Prayer, estimated at Rs 1-1.5 crore. 27 Nov, 2020. These illustrative sketches serve to remind us that the real pity isn’t that Athaiya didn’t pursue painting, it’s that despite her immense contributions to the Indian experience of modernity, she was never considered an artist. After seeing ‘Red Oleanders’, an English adaptation of Tagore’s symbolist play, Raktakarabi, the Rajopadhyes met the director, Hima Devi Kesarkodi. It can retain its small-town scale and warmth while being open and responsive to the globe’s finest offerings. While the protagonist of this painting is confident in her sensuousness, unself-conscious in her pose,‘Lady in Repose’ does not offer itself up for the delectation of the male gaze. So much for the mystique of what has been eulogized as the ‘last exhibition of the Progressive Artists’ Group’, the composition of which very likely had less to do with shared artistic ideology and more to do with the bonds of friendship and collegiality – and the humdrum imperative of pooling resources together to rent the exhibition space. Her The Art of Costume Design (New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2010), explores in lavish detail all the components that make a Bollywood movie so visually arresting--the clothes, the fabrics, the make up, even the jewellery without which no Indian outfit is ever complete. Husain, S.H. A little later, I mentioned this conversation to Shaila Parikh, who confirmed what Nadkarni had told me. That she chose cinema over the visual arts for the expression of her creativity does not, in any way, diminish her aura or her place in India’s cultural history. This painting is not the work of an acolyte of male masters. Until then, I had known of Athaiya as a sophisticated and celebrated designer of costumes for the popular Hindi cinema; she had won an Oscar for Best Costume Design for Richard Attenborough’s 1982 masterwork, Gandhi. There were girls from Tamil Nadu and even Sri Lanka… The whole experience at the convent was amazing. These contexts have unjustly been consigned to, oblivion, erased from a dominant narrative in which modernism is believed to arrive on the Bombay art scene only with the dramatic emergence of the. It was a common sight to see artists with their easels propped up and painting at scenic spots like the Mahalakshmi Temple, around Rankala Lake, and on the banks of the Panchganga River. The editor of the magazine, Kishen Jhangiani, had just returned from a course of study in Paris; he liked Bhanu’s sketches, which Meera Devi had shown him, and she began to work as an illustrator at. 14-17. Bhanu Athaiya. In the spirit of the time, which simultaneously looked back to India’s civilizational glory and forward to its modern future, her mandate was clear: “I had to draw inspiration from India’s heritage and showcase it in my fashion designs.” [3]. Fortunately for Solomon, the Imperial Secretariat fell within Baker’s domain. It is no surprise that Bhanumati Rajopadhye Athaiya, nourished by such a lively and multidisciplinary stream of stimuli, would seek larger horizons for her creativity. counted among her friends many of the master spirits who had defined the direction of postcolonial Indian art. Soon enough she found herself as part of an artistic and intellectual milieu, contact with which helped her interrogate more profoundly what it meant to go beyond the stylistic conventions she inherited from art school. He had directed several films in Marathi and Hindi and had given his family wide exposure to cinema, music, and theatre. larger cultural topography that extended across Bombay Presidency, several princely states, a swathe of territory in what is today north Karnataka, as well as two swathes, one that was then part of the Central Provinces & Berar, and another that was then in the Nizam’s Dominions, which are today part of Maharashtra. Her studies of temple sculptures and busts can be read retrospectively as prescient forays into design and draughtsmanship, and the scholarly rigour that marked her research that was driven by a quest for authenticity, but combined with a sartorial inventiveness that was entirely the result of her innate talent. It will be my endeavor, here, to demonstrate that Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya’s work as an artist – most of it achieved between 1945 and 1952, after which date she made her career as a sophisticated contributor to the Hindi cinema – had little to do with the influence or tutelage of the Progressives. Did they pass on their skills to their children or the neighbourhood kids, as either craft tutors or drawing teachers, and in doing so, did they not maintain a form of practice? Bhanu Athaiya weaves the story of her life in a new coffee-table book. Ranjit Hoskote is an Indian poet, art critic, cultural theorist, and independent curator. The first of these is the ethos of patronage for the arts and culture within the network of the native Princely States, which – alongside the territories ruled by the British Crown and the few enclaves ruled by France and Portugal – formed a vital element in the patchwork quilt of colonial India. He bought fine silk skeins for my mother to do compositions of birds and landscapes, and books on embroidery patterns, drawn thread work, and cutwork. IF WE DARE to look beyond the official narratives of Indian modernist art history, we might finally begin to uncover the vast range of speculative, non-canonical accounts that have always run parallel. Meanwhile, the entrepreneurial Kirloskar family developed a printing and publishing center at their industrial township of Kirloskarwadi near Kolhapur, and were important contributors to the art scenario; distinguished artists vied to produce cover designs and images for their triad of magazines, Kirloskar, Stree, and Manohar. In the case of the Progressives, it seems pointless, especially when some of those seeking to be sanctified in this manner were strikingly vigorous talents well launched on distinctive trajectories of their own, such as Mohan Samant and, indeed, Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya, had she chosen to make her career in art. It was certainly the norm in the 1950s and 1960s when the Jehangir Art Gallery at Kala Ghoda, the Artists Aid Centre (later the Artists Centre) on Rampart Row, and the Taj Art Gallery on the Apollo Bunder seafront were the only available venues for exhibition. She wanted, quite simply, to be self-sufficient and independent, capable of supporting her widowed mother rather than being a burden. The refined and multilingually well-read Khanna was doubtless well attuned to the analogy Souza intended with the Left-wing Progressive Writers Association (PWA), whose members included a constellation of brilliant Urdu writers including Saadat Hasan Manto, Sahir Ludhianvi, Ismat Chugtai, Kaifi Azmi, Sajjad Zaheer, and Rajinder Singh Bedi. Gaitonde, and the inducted PAG member Krishen Khanna, who also wrote the elegant introduction to the catalog. There were also three other artists: N.D [Noshir] Chapgar, G.M. My aim is not to demean the historic contribution of the Progressives and their circle, whose work I have studied, written about, and curated over several decades; nor do I wish to detract from the equally historic contribution of their early patrons and supporters, Walter. The point that this debate misses is that Indian culture – like all cultures everywhere – has, for millennia, been absorbent of diverse influences. Copies of the Ajanta murals had already, famously, been made by the students of the JJ School under Principal John Griffiths between 1872 and 1881, but the Bengal School had monopolized the Ajanta cult by setting in motion the practice of artistic ‘pilgrimages’ to this ‘shrine’ in 1909, at the height of the anti-colonial Swadeshi movement of self-reliance and self-rule that had begun four years previously in Bengal. The enduring fascination with Margaret Thatcher for authors, filmmakers and musicians. excellence and fame as a costume designer for cinema. Watching their [the nuns] rituals, hearing them chanting, and being so closely connected to their daily lives had a huge influence on me since I had never seen or heard of anything like this before. Alongside, students at the JJ during the Solomon regime were also trained in the tradition of the miniatures, so that they were intensely at home in multiple historical lineages and cultural climates (in the late 1940s, Bhanu Athaiya would study the miniature techniques and their adaptation to a contemporary situation under one of Solomon’s students, Jagannath Ahivasi, whose name had come to be synonymous with this artistic choice). Bhanu Athaiya is a “Progressive long lost to view; she is indeed, the only woman Progressive,” art critic Ranjit Hoskote writes in the catalogue for an upcoming auction. Bhanu Athaiya on IMDb: Movies, Tv, Celebrities, and more... Popular actress and Miss Universe Sushmita Sen is the only Bollywood actor to be featured in a coffee table book titled ‘The Indian Woman’ curated for the President of India’s gift for visiting international diplomats. Solomon set his students to render episodes from the Sanskrit epics, dramas, and poem cycles into a strikingly hybrid and exotic style in which the figures were inflected by Mucha, yet also retained a naturalism, while the Jaina and Rajput miniatures asserted their distant imprimatur too. Shahu Maharaj also patronized the physical culture movement, with its performances of mall-khamb and kushti by the pehelwans or wrestlers. The loss was always ours. … Noticing my interest in art, my father engaged a person to teach me papercraft when I was eight years old.” [2]. One wonders whether the original illustrations have survived. Bhanu Athaiya: The legacy of a long-hidden sun, It was D.G. She said, “Academy would be the safest place for … Hazarnis, and A.A. Raiba. Athaiya, who won an Academy Award for her work in Richard Attenborough's 1982 epic Gandhi, had a prolific career in India, working on some 200 films, including Bollywood classics such as 1965's Guide and 1980's Karz (Debt). … She began work the very next day. My aim, instead, is to draw attention to the more complex actuality of the Bombay of the 1930s and 1940s, decades of intense artistic ferment in the city, with many remarkable artists of several generations and stylistic orientations at work. In any case, the Progressives did not come together until 1947-1948, and constituted, as I have argued elsewhere. ‘Prayer’ is dominated by the figure of a female supplicant kneeling before an altar, her body stylized into a quasi-Cubist arrangement of angles and curves, yet with the texture and drape of the fabric, the pulse of a breath, the living human subject made palpable to us. private schools trained students who appeared at the examinations held in Bombay, and the influence of the methods followed in the Sir JJ School extended to wider areas such as the native Indian States. Bhanu Athaiya née Rajopadhye is costume designer, having worked in over 100 films, since the 1950s, with noted filmmakers like Guru Dutt, Yash Chopra, Raj Kapoor, Ashutosh Gowariker, and international directors like Conrad Rooks and Richard Attenborough. READ | Bhanu Athaiya (1929-2020): India’s first Oscar winner, creator of hit Bollywood moments and costumes for 60 years Athaiya was able to exercise this singularity of purpose because of her seniority in the industry and the sway that her Oscar … The second of Bhanu Athaiya’s formative contexts is the pedagogy of the Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy School of Art as shaped and articulated during the successive regimes of Principals Gladstone Solomon and Charles Gerard, with its emphasis on a Bombay Orientalism, and its lineage of influential pedagogues, including M V Dhurandhar, G H Nagarkar, Jagannath Ahivasi, and R D Dhopeshwarkar. In her notes, she reflects on what it really meant to have to choose between two equally serious pursuits of creativity, even though her peers didn’t quite see it that way. The muted and deep hues during the normal days at the convent juxtaposed with the pageantry at Christmas Eve Mass in the Byculla Church inspired me to paint ‘Nuns’ as a tribute to them. India, Around the world and many more.. Rosalyn D’Mello is an art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. These young artists also received enthusiastic support from an adventurous Bombay frame-maker and gallerist. Lady in Repose by Bhanu Athaiya, circa 1950. Thus blessed, their vigorous modernist work put in the shade the effete production of the academic realists and society painters who are said to have dominated the annual salons of the Bombay Art Society. I had interviewed Oscar-winning costume stylist, Bhanu Athaiya (April 28, 1929 — October 15, 2020) for a trilogy of screenplay books I was writing … However, it is unlikely that Khanna, as a young merchant banker – he had joined the Grindlays Bank in 1946, from which he would resign to set out as an independent artist only in 1961 – would display any manifest enthusiasm for an anti-capitalist position. Nadkarni, elder statesman among Bombay’s art critics, who first told me that. Internationalist in perspective, Alkazi invited visiting speakers to lecture at the Institute and interact with its members. If anything, we are made aware of our questionable locus as viewers of a private, even intimate moment. Her creations played a key role in shaping a distinct identity for Indian fashion from the 1950s to the 2000s. [13] Rippling out from Solomon’s pedagogy at the JJ School and his successes within the colonial system of patronage – and feeding even into the greater receptivity to European Modernism advocated by his successor as Principal Charles Gerard – this Bombay Orientalism became endemic to much of the art being produced in western India between the 1920s and 1940s. In a deeply upsetting piece of news, ace costume designer Bhanu Athaiya passed away on Thursday. Athaiya came to Bombay from Kolhapur because she was awarded a fellowship to study at the JJ School of Arts, then a hub for the European academic realist style. This charming nativity account is analogous to the foundation stories of many religions, in which the advent of the prophet, mystic or righteous teacher of choice is said to have been preceded by a period of darkness, ignorance, or decadence. Hoskote’s essay elaborates on this amorphous circle that constituted Bombay’s cognoscenti to arrive at an important point: that ‘members of the Bombay art world’s older circles—in whose lives the visual arts, cinema, music, architecture, and theatre intersected closely—were perfectly aware of Bhanu Athaiya’s work as an artist before she left it behind to achieve excellence and fame as a costume designer for film’. Back in 2011, when I was interning, I’d bought Bhanu Athaiya’s book [The Art of Costume Design], and since then it has travelled with me to the many cities that I have moved to. Bhanu Athaiya’s self-confidence was rooted in her earliest years. Susan Oka and Kristine Krueger of the Oscar Library while receiving Bhanu's book in 2011. Far from being a backwater – as ignorant observers resident in Bombay may imagine –. Her father, Annasaheb Rajopadhye, was a painter, an accomplished amateur photographer, and a film-maker. Narayan wrote, “the Second to independent and stylistically divergent painters like Jamini Roy and Amrita Sher-Gil; and the Third to those many painters, too numerous to be named individually, too varied in their outlook, those artists who emerged about the 1950s of this century, turning for inspiration not only to their own primitive, prehistoric and the more archaic and early miniature traditions but also to the makers of the new patrimony – Klee, Mondrian, Miro, Villon, Brancusi, Moore, Orozco, Marini, Giacometti, and the host of those eclectic masters of the post-impressionist period. This has, however, come as news to the younger generation that has only recently discovered Athaiya and presented her to the public as a Progressive long lost to view; indeed, as the only woman Progressive. At the time she had just finished work on the film Amrapali and would have been credited as a dress designer. Its protagonist is a female nude, possibly a model at art school or a fellow student or resident at the hostel, reclining with her back and buttocks to the viewer. [10], In 1928, as colonial India’s new capital, New Delhi, being designed by the architects' Herbert Baker and Edwin Lutyens, began to gain concrete shape, Solomon secured for his students a prestigious commission to decorate the Imperial Secretariat. connoisseurs and collectors Rudolf von Leyden, Walter Langhammer, and Emmanuel Schlesinger; and the polymathic theatre-maker, artist, collector, gallerist, and archivist Ebrahim Alkazi. Of these three, Chapgar and Hazarnis have never been regarded as members of the PAG; Raiba showed with the group in 1952 and 1953 but soon realized that his style, oriented towards India’s miniature traditions, had nothing in common with the more School of Paris-leaning painterly ambitions of the PAG. Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya was the first Indian to win an Oscar. Seated at a banquette, she sketched for us a floor plan of the Bhulabhai Institute, showing where the studios of various artists had been located. It was a node in a larger cultural topography that extended across Bombay Presidency, several princely states, a swathe of territory in what is today north Karnataka, as well as two swathes, one that was then part of the Central Provinces & Berar, and another that was then in the Nizam’s Dominions, which are today part of Maharashtra. 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