Erie Hobsbawm has once observed that all nations invent themselves, and post-colonial nations, by the logic of their emergence, undertake this exercise, perhaps more than others. Jawaharlal Nehru defined this process of reinvention for India when he announced its awak- ening to 'light and freedom' after a prolonged history of colonial subjugation. To the artistic imagination freedom among other things, signifies the rediscovery of one's ability to speak out after an epoch of silence or unthinking irritation. Modernity in this context defines itself as illumination following a long era of struggle.
Against this background of seeking modernity in freedom, today when the nation is more than 50 years old, it would be worthwhile to make an assessment of the progress of post- independence Indian Art. Contemporary Indian Art has evolved over these years through definitive shifts in style and direction, of formal concerns and thernatic commitment.
Ranjit Hoskote, the renowned poet and art critic has ably illustrated this point when he argues that there exist atleast three generations of posteolonial artists in India today. The first of these like M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, Krishen Khanna and the like, was born during the zenith of imperialism, while the second generation of artists like Jogen Chowdhury, Vivan Sundram, Gulam Sheikh and others was born, broadly speaking, at a time when the process of decline of the colonial power in India had already set in. Artists of the third generation, like Arpana Caur, Shanti Dave, Arnitava Das, Rekha Rodwittya, Arpita Singh etc., having mostly been born during the 60s and 70s of the century, fully embody the post-colonial culture. The perspective of this generation is shaped by recent phases of history and their concomitant experience, some of which have hot been pleasant.
The present exhibition consisting of 81 paintings, curated by Roobina Karode, presently Visiting Professor, Delhi College of Art, from the Council's own collection, gives us ail idea of the moods, inspiration, aspiration as well as optimism of these artists. Through these paintings these artists have endeavoured to build a bridge of compassion and understanding with the viewers as well as reaffirmed our faith in the future thereby forging a common bond between India and other countries.