Celebrating Kolkata’s veteran artists – The Hindu

A walk at Abanindranath Tagore’s house at Konnagar during the first edition of The City as a Museum. 

A walk at Abanindranath Tagore’s house at Konnagar during the first edition of The City as a Museum. 
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Two Bengal-based female artists who were popular during their time but are on the verge of being forgotten will be celebrated during this year’s The City as a Museum event held annually by the Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) to mark International Heritage Week. Visits to the homes of Shanu Lahiri and Amina Ahmed Kar will be among the key events, spread across eight locations, organised by the DAG from November 18-27.

“There are so many instances where we see that our grandmothers or mothers learnt art or practiced it but their works are never seen publicly and remain in family collections. In rare cases, families take the initiative and have the resources to preserve and showcase these works, which is what we see in the case of Shanu Lahiri and Amina Kar and which is why we are able to share their work through a visit to their family homes and house-museums as a part of this festival,” DAG’s Sumona Chakravarty told  The Hindu.

The City as a Museum event is being held in and around Kolkata since 2021 and which will move to Mumbai next year.

The City as a Museum event is being held in and around Kolkata since 2021 and which will move to Mumbai next year.
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Rich archive

“Shanu Lahiri was a remarkable artist and educator who mobilised a women artists’ collective, practiced public art, wrote and spoke on the role of art, and built a rich archive of the works of the artists, musicians, writers in her creative community. Her family is now in the process of digitising this archive, which will give art lovers and scholars a glimpse into the city’s cultural landscape post-Independence. We are lucky to be able to get a view of the process of putting this archive together and I hope it inspires others to delve into the forgotten histories in their own families,” Ms. Chakravarty said.

“Amina Ahmed Kar is another artist that we are in danger of losing sight of completely. She was a writer and painter who moved from figurative works to non-figurative, geometric expressions, gathering in density and darkness over the period of her life. She also made some sculptural work which is on display at the Amina Kar gallery (her home) — the only venue where people can still see some of her work regularly. Along with her drawings and sketches, these rarely seen artifacts will remind us of her enduring significance today as an experimental artist who pushed the boundaries of self-expression through various formal innovations,” she said.

Other highlights at the event

Other highlights at this year’s The City as a Museum event, being held in and around Kolkata since 2021 and which will move to Mumbai next year, include tours of the Hooghly Imambara as well as lesser-known treasure troves of art and literary-cultural materials such as the Uttarpara Jaykrishna Public Library and Prasad Tagore Palace.

“By exploring how unexpected parts of the city can be seen as treasure troves of art, we hope we can make our rich heritage of visual art and our history more relevant and accessible for all,” Ms. Chakravarty said.

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