HARI AMBADAS GADE(1917-2001)
The Progressive Artists’ Group: 70 Years of Indian Modernism“If art is in some ways a barometer, then the Progressive Artists Group is emblematic of the formative years of modernism in India. In its move towards individualism, its strong leanings towards universal values and its non-hierarchical attitude, modernism has met with resistance in this country. But to the Progressives goes the credit for imbibing from internationalism and rooting it here and lending it an iconic status.” (Y. Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, New Delhi, 2001, p. x)In the 1930s and 40s in India, the idea of modernism was linked as much with the growth of individual consciousness and internationalism as it was with the new sense of national identity in the country. Its expression in literature, theatre, film, architecture and art then had important historical and socio-political dimensions, and was frequently supported by cultural practitioners and groups oriented towards the Left. It was in this environment, just before India gained independence in 1947, that the Progressive Artists Group (PAG) was formed.Originally linked ideologically with the Communist Party of India, the PAG soon invalidated these ties in favour of strong modernist intentions. One of its founders, Francis Newton Souza articulated this course concisely, writing, “Today we paint with absolute freedom for content and techniques almost anarchic; save that we are governed by one or two sound elemental and eternal laws, of aesthetic order, plastic co-ordination and colour composition. We have no pretensions of making vapid revivals of any school or movement in art. We have studied the various schools of painting and sculpture to arrive at a vigorous synthesis.” (F.N. Souza, Painting and Sculpture by the Progressive Artists’ Group, exhibition catalogue, Mumbai, 1949, unpaginated)The ‘absolute freedom’ of expression Souza spoke of drew as much praise as it did suspicion, opposition and even controversy. However, along with the five other founding members of the group, Maqbool Fida Husain, Krishnaji Howlaji Ara, Syed Haider Raza, Sadanand Bakre and Hari Ambadas Gade, Souza stood steadfast in his beliefs and artistic practice. The Progressive’s first exhibition was held in Baroda in February 1949, and then another in Bombay later that year.Reminiscing about the first years of the PAG, Raza wrote, “What we had in common besides our youth and lack of means was that we hoped for a better understanding of art. We had a sense of searching and we fought the material world. There was at our meetings and discussions a great fraternal feeling, a certain warmth and a lively exchange of ideas. We criticised each other’s work as surely as we eulogised about it. This was a time when there was no modern art in our country and a period of artistic confusion.” (Artist statement, S. Bahadurji, ‘Point of Creation’, Bombay Magazine, 7-21 March 1984, unpaginated)Over the next few years, the membership of the PAG evolved as Souza, Raza and Bakre left India, and close associates of the group like Bal Chhabda, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Bhanu Rajapadhya, Mohan Samant and Krishen Khanna expanded its ranks. Eventually, as more members moved away from Bombay, the PAG was officially dissolved in 1954.Although they took several different forms, and were expressed across multiple genres, the modernist vocabularies of each of the founding members of the PAG were united in their antithetical position to the academic, romantic and orientalist schools of art that they succeeded in replacing. Over the course of these artists’ careers, some extending across nearly eight decades, these idioms evolved and expanded, but their conviction and commitment to the ideal of building a new, modern cannon of art for India remained unchanged. It is not surprising then that the founding members and associates of the PAG are counted among South Asia’s most important modern artists.This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the seminal Progressive Artists’ Group and are proud to present some rare and early works by all six original members and several of their associates. These include a Goan village scene by Souza (lot 13), a 1949 landscape by Gade (lot 41), early watercolours by Gade and Raza (lots 8-10), designs for children’s toys by Husain (lots 1-3 and 33), a townscape by Bakre (lot 6) and an enchanting still life by Ara (lot 40).PROPERTY FROM THE CANDY PRIVATE COLLECTION
HARI AMBADAS GADE(1917-2001)

Untitled (Amira Kadal)

Details
HARI AMBADAS GADE(1917-2001)
Untitled (Amira Kadal)
signed 'Gade' (lower centre); further inscribed and titled 'Artist Name:- H.A. Gade / D-139 Chembur / (Bombay) / Title of the Picture:- "Amira Kadal" / Price Rs 200/- (Rs two hundred only)' (on label on the reverse of the frame)
gouache and pencil on paper
26 ½ x 19 ½ in. (67.3 x 49.5 cm.)
Provenance
Private Collection, UK
Acquired from the above by present owner

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Alicia Churchward
Alicia Churchward

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