Indian Art Scene
Krishna Chaitanya
CONTEMPORARY INDIAN ARTISTS by Geeta Kapur Vikas, New Delhi, 1977, 225 pp., 75.00
Nov-Dec 1977, volume 2, No 6

When, during the first half of this century, art surrendered to a revivalist ethos because a subject people had to cling to memories of past greatness to forget their current humiliation, art criticism mostly amounted to singing the greatness of the legend, poetry or epoch of which the paintings were illustrations. Later, when the windows of the country were flung open to the winds from every­where—as Gandhi wanted, but forget­ting his caution that we should not be swept off our feet—art criticism be­came polarized, some defending a mis­understood traditionalism with all their might, others upholding an equally mis­understood cosmopolitanism.

The dust seems to be settling now. And in this book by Geeta Kapur, cri­ticism has become professionally mature, a serious enterprise to which the critic comes equipped with thorough ground­ing in aesthetics and art history and with patient research on the personal data and the inner evolution of the artists. But sophistication, occasionally amounting to unconscious sophistry, can be found in all professional advocacy; words mean a lot, perhaps much more than the image, in modern art as Tom Wolfe showed in his devastating expose in Harp’s; therefore occasionally we have to be as wary of what Geeta Kapur says as she herself generally is with res­pect to the masks and pontifications of the artists themselves.

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