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‘Leave some candles for tomorrow’ by Anupam Sud.
‘Leave some candles for tomorrow’ by Anupam Sud.

Between the lines

'Seven Decades of Indian Drawing', an exhibition being organized by Gallery Espace, will showcase a range of artists, from Krishen Khanna to Atul Dodiya

“It’s a collection of five sad drawings," is how veteran artist Krishen Khanna describes his recent sketches, made in 2013 and 2014. The black and white drawings depict Partition and the mass exodus that it led to. “I left my friends in that part of Punjab. The memories still haunt me," says Khanna, who was born in Faisalabad, now in Pakistan.

Khanna’s five works will be a part of Drawing 2014: Seven Decades Of Indian Drawing, an exhibition planned by Gallery Espace on its 25th anniversary. “Through these works I ruminate about the past and the sense of displacement I still feel," says the 89-year-old artist.

The show, to be held at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts from 10 November, is co-curated by Prayag Shukla along with Annapurna Garimella and Sindhura Jois D.M. of Jackfruit Research and Design, Bangalore. The works, artistic impressions from 1947 to contemporary times, include drawings made on single sheets of paper, artist books, studies for other projects, laser drawings and animation.

“Drawings as an art form has always been there in the Indian art scene and dates back to our miniature paintings; however, they haven’t received much prominence over the years," says Renu Modi, an art collector and owner of Gallery Espace. “This exhibition seeks to highlight how Indian artists have adopted and experimented with several distinct approaches to drawings through seven decades.

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‘Introspection’ by Akshay Rathore.

Shukla visited the studios and centres of artists across India over the last two years to collect their works. The veritable treasure trove includes Mona Rai’s calligraphic drawings, Ganesh Haloi’s nature sketches and Sudhir Patwardhan’s drawings. “Contemporary artists don’t do much shading in their drawings, which is prominent in the older artists’ works. The technology has changed the art form as well as the material," says Shukla.

His point is reflected strikingly in the works of younger and contemporary artists. For instance, artists like Paula Sengupta and Rakhi Peswani have used embroidery and textiles as the medium and support for their drawing, artist Manisha Parekh has used paper snippets in her work, and Probir Gupta has used animation.

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‘Day Dreamers in Baroda’ by Birendra Pani.

The contemporary artists’ list starts with Atul Dodiya, whose displayed works reflect upon the transformations in specific forms—“much inspired by Tagore’s ink doodles", says the artist.

Artists like Manjunath Kamath, however, abide by Garimella’s definition of drawing. “My works are simple and are basically a visual diary of my day-to-day life, with a touch of humour and wit," says Kamath. “For me, drawing is essential, like for any older or contemporary artist. The only difference is that for older artists drawing was a proper pen and pencil sketch, while for contemporary artists it is more of a photograph."

Drawing 2014: Seven Decades Of Indian Drawing will be held from 10-28 November, 11am-7pm, at the Exhibition Hall, 11, Mansingh Road, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), Mansingh Road, New Delhi. Prices range from 30,000 to 32 lakh.

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