New Delhi: Rare photographs, lithographs and prints that capture historic moments from India’s freedom struggle would be on display at the “Historical Epic III: India in the making” courtesy the Osian. This is the third in the series of archival exhibitions from their permanent collection that were held through the year to commemorate 150 years of the 1857 mutinous war of independence.
While ‘An Historical Epic I and II’ held in March and July 2007 respectively, highlighted significant historical events from the advent of the Europeans to the 1880s, this exhibition will focus on the period 1880 - 1950s.
Lithograph depicting Mahatma Gandhi on the Dandi March
The selection of artworks will be on public display in New Delhi before moving on to Mumbai at the soon to be opened arts and film complex, the Osianama (formerly Minerva Cinema) which is a unique archive cum library cum museum cum debating chamber at the theatre complex.
Rare archival art pieces
A visual cultural and artistic journey, the collection takes you through historic moments that capture the nationalist sentiment with heroes like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai, Subhash Chandra Bose, Chandrashekhar Azad and leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and others.
* Rise of Imperialism in India is showcased through chromolithographic prints of British Royalty in conjunction with fine antiquarian collection of photographs by Bourne and Shepherd. The conflict for imperial domination or the ‘Great Game’ over Afghanistan gets depicted through John Burke’s rare photographs of the Second Afghan War (1878-80).
* Oleographic prints created by the Ravi Varma presses which represent the influence of mythology over the masses in this period.
* The spiritual and intellectual awakening of India represented through printed portraits and watercolours of Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Shri Aurobindo, Rabindranath Tagore and others.
Poster on Shaheed Bhagat Singh
*Rise of the national movement in India which was largely supported by the various printing presses functioning in India at the time and lithographic prints from the Nami and Cawnpore presses are on display
*The famed Chittaprosad and Qamarul Hasan woodcuts and linocuts.
* Rise of revolutionary fervour and heroism depicted through numerous document types are present in the form of song synopsis booklets, posters and lobby cards on Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Subhash Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Ambedkar, supported by lithographs of Batukeshwar Dutt, Sukhdev and Jatindra Nath Das.
* Lithographs, chromolithographs of Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Dr Ambedkar highlight the formation and development of the Indian National Congress. Rise of Subhash Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army, various facets of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru along with nation-building process and images of Bharatmata which are represented by chromolithographs, hand-coloured photographic prints, lithographs, watercolours, lobby cards, oleographs and mixed media images.
* Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), known for his unique merger of photojournalism and fine-art photography, is regarded as a master of the ‘decisive moment’, a technique that aimed to capture in a photo, the precise instant defining an action, scene or historical event. Cartier-Bresson’s fascination with India began in 1947, at the time of Independence. Among his best known photos are those he took in January 1948 of Mahatma Gandhi and the events surrounding his assassination and funeral. The photographer had in fact, spent the afternoon with Gandhiji on 30January, 1948 and left him barely 15 minutes before he was fatally shot.
These beautiful, dramatic and very rare images,are shaped by an eye and mind legendary for intelligent empathy. The collection includes the priceless photograph ‘A somber Jawaharlal Nehru, at night, announcing the death of Mahatma Gandhi to the waiting crowd’.
On display at the Visual Arts Gallery at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi from 14-25 August