Diaspora-Artists logo

Avinash Chandra: Some Personal Notes

Article relating to an individual, 1968
Published by: Studio International journal of modern art
Year published: 1968
Number of pages: 6

image of Avinash Chandra: Some Personal Notes

Substantial, six page article in which Avinash Chandra reflected on his art and his life as an artist.  The piece appeared in the October 1968 issue of Studio International journal of modern art, pages 140 - 145. A facsimile of the piece was included in the catalogue for ‘Avinash Chandra’, a solo exhibition by the artist, held at the Rose Fried Gallery, then located at 40 East 68th Street, New York. The exhibition’s dates were 22 October - 20 November 1968. The exhibition’s catalogue featured a selection of work made between 1959 and 1968, including a work from the collection of Tate Gallery, Hills of Gold, 1966, 40 x 95 inches.

“Some personal notes”, outlined the development of his artistic practice. Included in the text, “My painting became a discovery of my Indian nature and temperament, and without knowing it I drew more and more on Indian images. For example, English churches and their Gothic spires reminded me of Hindu temples of the age you find at Khajuraho in Central India.”

Earlier on this fascinating text, Chandra recalled, “What I learned in art school in Delhi about Indian Art was very little, not feeling, at the time, any great interest or passion for the subject. But, of course, we knew all about England and the English, their culture, geography, viceroys etc.; and whenever a native artist veered towards Indian sculpture or miniatures, he was told rather curtly, ‘Come on, do something like what’s going on in Europe!’ An attitude, incidentally, that still exists, but now, for ‘Europe’ read ‘U.S.A.’ In those days it was never fashionable to indulge in or appreciate Indian art and, perhaps as a result, some Indian painters still bear a grudge because of this, blaming the foreign-trained teachers for leading them astray and not having taught them properly, never for a moment giving a thought to the possibility that they themselves might through some mysterious mischance lack any natural talent. So be it.

…By persistent request I started at Delhi Polytechnic Art School when I was sixteen. There, through some bad reproductions, I had my first taste of Rembrandt. After him came Van Gogh, Gauguin, and many others, and for a time I saturated myself in Soutine.

All the while I painted and painted, straightforward, competent landscapes, going back to my Simla Hills for inspiration, always in the European tradition, now and then experimenting with palette knife and other techniques. Material was costly, and sometimes my father would baulk at paying any more money for paints, but fortunately on these occasions my mother came to the rescue - secretively, of course.

I graduated from there in 1952 and then went through a rapid period of success, during which I earned the distinction of becoming the first painter to sell to the then newly-established Museum of Modern Art in New Delhi. I felt I had arrived - in India at least, though my expenses and outlay far exceeded my success.

…Then, like most Indian and other ‘colonial’ painters, I had my first London show at the Commonwealth Institute (then the Imperial Institute) and, once again, enjoyed some success.”

Related people

»  Avinash Chandra

Born, 1931 in Simla, India. Died, 1991