The B. M. Anand Foundation will showcase selected works by anti-establishment, modernist painter and illustrator Brij Mohan Anand, in a specially curated exhibition at India Art Fair, New Delhi, 9 – 12 February 2018.
Curated by Dr. Alka Pande and designed by Ishan Khosla, this exhibition intends to broaden public exposure and understanding of B. M. Anand and his work, whilst examining his innovative aesthetic language which he implemented as a powerful medium of social and political commentary.
Brij Mohan Anand (1928-1986) was a die-hard socialist, who questioned everything from feudalism to imperialism, a self-taught artist, a painter and an illustrator, who made art to voice his protest, and highly successful graphic artist. His unique visual imagery was distinct in tone, tenor, style and form to that of his Bombay Progressive contemporaries which included modern masters M.F. Hussain, Tyeb Mehta, S.H. Raza, F.N. Souza and Krishen Khanna, amongst others. Whilst The Progressives were principally concerned with identity and materiality, Anand was steadfast in his commitment to his personal politics, articulating his ideas on the Indian Renaissance and the political awakening around him that described pivotal points in Indian history: Partition, the Cold War (in South Asia), and the tumultuous journey to Independence. For Anand, art was a powerful medium for social and political change which he used effectively to voice dissent.
Offering audiences alternative and renewed perspectives of Indian Modernism, this exhibition demonstrates the diversity of Anand’s oeuvre — scratchboards, sketches, apocalyptic landscapes and stark modernist figure compositions stand alongside his innovative graphic illustrations that include posters made for the Red Cross, and book covers of the hugely popular Hindi pulp fiction novels, Pocket Books.
Anand was routinely commissioned and sponsored by some of India’s leading cultural and news organisations, such as the well-known graphic design agency KBK, founded by Kul Bhushan Kumar, and the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), a popular publisher of school textbooks. Consequently, his visually rich illustrations are a rare critique and insight into Indian visual culture spanning more than fifty years and tracing crucial historical turning points in India’s progress and transformation.
Anand’s legacy registers a singular consciousness and a profoundly ideological belief in the socially redemptive power of aesthetics, positioning him as a significant Indian modernist who remains relatively undiscovered on account of his iconoclastic views, controversial subject matter and his continued rejection of cultural and political hegemony.
The display at India Art Fair follows the B. M. Anand Foundation 2016 exhibition at the India International Centre, New Delhi which also marked the release of the award-winning monograph Narratives for Indian Modernity: The Aesthetics of Brij Mohan Anand. A second monograph focused on the artist’s scratchboards, authored by Dr. Grant Pooke and edited by Dr. Alka Pande, will be released later this year by Harper Collins India to accompany the IAF presentation.