After years of camaraderie based on the vision of progressive modernist approach achieved through distinctive styles and techniques, the ardour of Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG) of Bombay faded in the early 1950’s. During its lifetime, the leftist radicalism became too stern to be endured by few of its members, eventually leading them to focus on their individual paths. And when F. N. Souza (1924-2002), S. K. Bakre (1920-2007) and S. H. Raza (1922-2016) left for London and Paris, new modern artists affiliated with the group.
The collective now loosely comprised of Krishen Khanna (1925-), Vasudeo S. Gaitonde (1924-2001), Akbar Padamsee (1928-), Tyeb Mehta (1925-2009), Mohan Samant (1924-2004), Bal Chhabda (1923-2013) and Ram Kumar (1924-2018) with the existing members- Maqbool Fida Husain (1915-2011), Krishnaji Howlaji Ara (1914-1985) and Hari Ambadas Gade (1917-2001). The new members shared the similar objective of modernist approach with PAG while experimenting with their own mediums and techniques.
Born in Faislabad (Pakistan), Krishen Khanna was trained to be a banker but his inclination towards art led him to attend the evening art classes at Lahore’s Mayo School of Art. He mostly delved into the figurative style using expressionist brushwork and vibrant colours. He was fascinated to explore “the person in a particular situation who is influenced by the conditions around.” After his first exhibition with the group held in 1949, he exhibited in various national and international galleries. He now lives and works in Delhi.
Vasudeo S. Gaitonde
Vasudeo Gaitonde hailed from Nagpur, Maharashtra and completed his diploma at Sir J. J. School of Art in 1948. He produced very few artworks during his lifetime, mainly focusing on abstract expressionist style creating a spiritual and translucent underwater ambience. He was also influenced by Zen philosophy and ancient calligraphy, incorporating various elements from them. He lived in Delhi and breathed his last in 2001.
Akbar Padamsee was born in Bombay, Maharashtra. He was completing his diploma in painting from Sir J. J. School of art when he was associated with PAG. During his lifetime, he experimented with multitude of mediums including oil paintings, sculpture, plastic emulsion, film, photography and so on depicting prophets, still-life, mirror-images, grey series and metascapes. He now lives and works in South Mumbai (Maharashtra).
Born in Kapadvanj in Gujarat, Tyeb Mehta was also an alumnus of Sir J. J. School of Art. His oeuvre included varied themes and styles adopted from European and Indian pictorial language. Inspired from the artistic language of Francis Bacon, he tried his hand at macabre distortion. There is a visible presence of vibrant colours and diagonal divisions throughout his works. Few of his protagonists were the characters taken from Indian mythology like Mahishasura, Durga, and Kali. He spent the latter part of his life in Mumbai and passed away in 2009.