When art takes a definite
form transcending the limits of abstractions and comes to live with
us in day to day life; where there is a strong need to breathe in
just the beautiful, breaking the monotony of our bland modernity, a
place like Triveni Kala Sangam comes into being.
In this superb structure,
designed by the famous architect Joseph Allen Stein, the life-blood
of art runs like a leitmotif through the entire design. There is
probably no other such place in the country that has succeeded so
well in embodying the Indian cultural ensemble.
Triveni, as the three art
forms dance, music and painting, and is also the meeting point of the
traditional and the contemporary. A place like Triveni is meant to
fulfill a definite purpose-to satiate the need of a perfect
atmosphere for art and the artist, to reach out and promote the
understanding and appreciation of art. Triveni embraces even the
Philistine in its numerous folds of creativity and establishes a link
of veneration between him and the process of artistic creation. I was
introduced to Triveni at a very young age and spent long hours in its
art galleries, getting an insight into the world of artistic
creation. There romantic serenity, as well as the sense of austere
commitment to art-the whole atmosphere enthralled me so much that I
decided to become a part of this institution. Triveni has such an
over powering effect on those who come here that Sudhir Dar, the
famous cartoonist, (a Triveni regular) commented it was delightful
way of breaking ones obsession with work. Triveni refreshes my
creativity, he added. If only there were more places like
this in Delhi to spread the cultural ambience. Sudhir Dars
association with Triveni is more than 15 years old. Im
happy to come here, he says. Its so exciting, this
exchange of ideas, the interaction between cinema, theatre and the
plastic arts. One actually sees creation taking place in front of
ones eyes, his deep voice resonates in exclamation. Often
its a poet brooding over his poem, or an actor working hard to
improve his histrionic abilities, or someone just sitting around
day dreaming, perhaps! This place has an intellectual virility and an
emotional compatibility among all those who come here regularly.
of Triveni Kala Sangam, Sundari K. Shridharani, was once a student in
Uday Shankars dance school. She is now the founder-director of
this institution. Mrs. Shridharani has very successfully maintained a
sense of freshness in the surroundings: the greenery in and around
the complex gives an effervescent aura. The story, however, hasnt
always been so plush. Triveni rose from a very modest beginning. It
was started in 1951 and had just two students in one room above a
coffee house in Connaught Place under professors K.S. Kulkarni, a
master painter, one of the most venerated in the world of
contemporary India painting.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
was so impressed with Mrs. Shridharanis endeavours that he had
a plot of land allotted to her so that her dream took concrete shape.
The sense of structural
congruity, subtle though it is, is discernible everywhere. The
open-air garden theatre which lies in the centre of the building is a
place of creation for guru Singhajit Singh and his wife Charu, the
famous Manipuri dancers. They practise here along with the disciples
from their early hours of the day until dusk. The graceful figure of
the Chhau dancers moving to the hauntingly repetitive beats of the
mridangam imbue the surrounding atmosphere with an other
worldly bliss. The café, adjoining the theatre, is the high
point at Triveni and is the permanent rendezvous of the capitals
intellectuals. It is here that ideas and dreams are conceived. Late
afternoons are crowded and noisy. However the waiters are never in a
jurry to serve. But there is always more to a place like the Triveni
café than just good food, and good service.
Mrs. Alkazi, the director
of the Art Heritage gallery situated in the basement of
Triveni, comments: the canteen is helpful in getting different
people togetherattracting young people towards art.
Art Heritage, the most
prestigious art galley in the capital, is owned by Mr. Ibrahim Alkazi
and his wife. This is the only gallery in the capital that exhibits
foreign artists frequently. The Alkazis are an integral part of
Triveni. Its been a 12 years long happy experience here,
says Mrs. Alkazi. Triveni satisfies a certain kind of need in a
metropolis like Delhi. About the reaction of foreign visitors,
Mrs. Alkazi says, they are surprised that a place like this
exists here in India.
amazes them. The Indian art scene is for once taken seriously and
Triveni has two more art
galleriesthe Shridharani Gallery and the Triveni Gallery. The
Shridharani Gallery is the most popular, and perhaps the most
spacious in town, it is usually booked by artists two to three years
in advance. The Triveni Gallery, though smaller in size, in
nevertheless much in demand, as it guarantees extensive viewership.
The serious reader of
literature has a lot to look forward to at The Nooka tiny
little book shop located in the basement of Triveni, which also
offers an extensive collection of India classical music. Prakriti a
garden situated at the back of the main building is almost
paradisiacalquiet, cool and inviting, it is a plush, tropical
boutique. Prakriti has an extensive collection of plants ranging from
bamboos to palms, from cacti to a variety of creepers and all these
are planted in a variety of pots made of terracotta. It is a sheer
delight to visit this little garden.
Today, Triveni Kala
Sangam continues to add new dimensions to the world of modern Indian
art by perpetuating a highly individualistic style of painting. The
artists at Triveni have developed a whole new genre of painting which
can now be called the Triveni School of Painting. Rameshwar Broota
heads the art department and working under him are famous painters
like Vasundhara Tiwari, Jagdish Chandar (a College of Art graduate).
Prabha Shah, Suneela Bindra, Anju Bhadwar, Shruti Gupta and many
A spirit of creative
energy pervades this exclusive and elegant department with its
spacious and surprisingly clean studios where the atmosphere is
congenial and, intellectual
and creating art is what Triveni Kala Sangam is all about. Art is
intricately woven into the fabric of the routine activities at
Triveni. Here at last is a place for the human mind to seek refuge in
the heart of artistic creativity.
GALLERY OF MODERN ART
The idea of setting up a
gallery for contemporary art was first voiced at an art conference
held in Kolkata in 1947, when Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was the
Education Minister. In March 1954 the gallery was inaugurated by Dr.
Radhakrishna and Hermann Goetz was appointed as it first director. A
committee was also appointed under the chairmanship of Maurice Gwyer
(the then Vice Chancellor of Delhi University) to decide on the
extent and subject matter the gallery would cover.
The art objects housed in
the Gallery include paintings, graphics and sculptures. The paintings
of the earlier artists are divided into three phases. The first is
from 1858 till around 1905. The revivalist phase of India paintings
covers the next phase from 1905 to 1930. And then there are the
individual painters like Rabindranath, Jamini Roy, Amrita Shergill
and Gagonendranath Tagore.
Giving the background of
the so called revivalist Indian artists, A.S. Raman says,
With the disappearance of the families known for their rich
contribution to Indian miniature painting, there was a vacuum in the
1860s. So the British artists and art teachers took over the began to
introduce Western style and techniques as part of their civilizing
mission. Thus began Company Paintingsfollowing
rigid academic style and making no attempts to bring about a
synthesis of Western style and Indian sensibility. Strangely
enough, like the Indian national Congress that was started by A.O.
Home, the man behind the concept of revivalism was another
Englishman, E.B. HavellPrincipal of the Government School of
In 1907 the Oriental
Society of Art was established in Calcutta and Abanindranath and
Rabindranath guided the students. The first generation of artists who
came from here included Nandlal Bose, K.N. Mazumdar, Mukul De, Asit
Kumar Haldar and Venkatapappa. Again, it was in the opening years of
this century that Abanindranath introduced his famous wash
techniques. Several examples of this can be seen in the gallery and
it is based on an amalgamation of Indian and Far Eastern styles of
There is a whole room of
paintings displaying Rabindranath Tagores painting in the
gallery. Most of them are in dark colours and the brush strokes are
very prominent. Similarly, Nandlal Bose also has a whole room devoted
to his works. In fact, out of the 12,000 odd art objects on display
here, about 6,700 pieces are by Nandlal Bose.
Jamini Roys display
constitutes about 250 pieces. His contribution to Indian painting was
his use of the folk themes. He was particularly inspired by the
Bankura terracottas and used the style in his paintings.
Amrita Shergill came to
India in 1934 after having got her diploma from Paris. Not satisfied
with the Bengal School, she started easel painting in India. Her
themes were oriental but the styles were occidental. She was deeply
influenced by Gaugins paintings. Later she turned more and more
towards the Rajput miniatures and the Kangra School for inspiration.
Several paintings of Shergill are displayed in the gallery and the
distinctive style has a special attraction of its own.
decided to be universal in character and painted a series of
paintings in black and white with a synthesis of futurism and cubism.
After 1941, B.B. Mukherjee and Ram Kinkar are two names that stand
out and whose works are on display at the gallery. Around 1943 a
group of dynamic young artists started the Kolkata group. Man was
the nucleus of their paintings and, its members were artists like
Prodosh Dasgupta, N. Mazumdar and Ram Kinkar.
Apart from these painters
the Gallery has several other rooms depicting various objects dart.
The 50s and 70s have been treated decade-wise as are the paintings on
New-Tantra art by a large number of artists like Biren de, G.R.
Santosh, Prafulla Mohanty, Om Prakash, K.V. Haridasan, P.T. Reddy,
Sohan Qadri and K.C.S. Pannikar. In the Gallery there is also a whole
room of India women artists and foreign artists.
The room of sculpture has
exhibits ranging from terracotta to marble. Exhibits here start from
1924. To bring the Gallery up to date with the fresh artists working
all over the country, their works are purchased at the regional
centres. At these centres meetings are held, advertisements printed
and the artists are invited to submit their works.
A new wing for the
Gallery in the same campus has been planned. The present building
will then have the paintings of the Bengal School and the new wing
will have the modern works. The restoration unit attached to the art
reference library is doing serious and useful work in giving a fresh
lease of life to old and damaged paintings which would otherwise be
OTHER CENTRES OF ART
Garhi, located in South
Delhi, came into being in 1976. The inspiration came from the City
of Art in Paris where individual artists are provided with
studios and lodging.
However, Garhi has some
distinctive features. Only qualified professional artists can apply
through the Lalit Kala Akademi. It provides four community studios
for graphics, sculpture, pottery and painting, apart from seven
individual studios. Eight to 10 artists can work at a time in a
Garhi is the ideal place
to visit if one wishes to see painters, graphic artists, sculptors,
potters and a wide range of other artisans at work in close quarters.
But the list of galleries
in Delhi is not complete by any means. For the serious art
aficionados there are the Lalit Kala Akademi (on Ferozshah Road) and
the AIFACS Gallery (on Rafi Marg). If thats not enough try the
more than half a dozen prominent private galleries strewn over the