Snow in Pahalgam

Snow in Pahalgam
inscribed and titled 'AVINASH CHANDRA Snow in Pahalgam 10 HOTEL CECIL DELHI 8 10th December 1955' (on artist's label on the reverse)
oil on canvas
37¼ x 41¼ in. (94.6 x 104.8 cm.)
Painted circa early 1950s
From the Collection of the Artist
Thence by descent
Srinagar, 1951
New Delhi, Delhi Silpi Chakra, Student Member Exhibition, 1951
New Delhi, Delhi Silpi Chakra, Paintings by Avinash Chandra, 28 August - 3 September, 1953
New Delhi, Hotel Cecil, 1955

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Umah Jacob
Umah Jacob

Lot Essay

Avinash Chandra was born in Shimla in 1931. After graduating from Delhi Polytechnic in 1952, he taught at the institution for a few years and in 1955, married his classmate and fellow artist Premlata. The following year, after his wife won a Government Scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Art in London, the couple left India for England. Except for a short period in New York on a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship, Chandra lived and worked in London until his death in 1991.
Chandra achieved a number of firsts in his career spanning four decades. He received an award at the first National Exhibition of Art held by Lalit Kala Akademi in the year 1955, became the first Indian artist to be represented at Tate Gallery, London, and the first Indian artist to participate in Documenta, Kassel.

Chandra began his artistic career as a landscape painter, receiving critical acclaim for his nostalgic hill and mountainscapes even during his days as a student at Delhi Polytechnic. It was only in the late 1950s that his style underwent a significant shift when he added abstract organic forms and sexual motifs to his repertoire.

This canvas, titled Snow in Pahalgam, is part of the artist's most formative body of work. In the summer of 1951, Chandra visited Kashmir, where he created a great volume of artwork, mostly landscapes in watercolour and a few oil paintings, including this winter scene. Exhibited for the first time as part of a solo exhibition in Srinagar in 1951, this landscape was also shown later the same year in the Delhi Silpi Chakra Student Member exhibition. Writing about the latter show, Charles Fabri, the noted critic observed, "the young painters show promise and some of them achievement. The most outstanding among them are Mr. Avinash Chandra and Mr. Bishamber Khanna. Mr. Chandra, whose ink-and-wash landscapes are attractive and above the average, shows a sensitive eye and an able hand; his oils show novel experiments." (C. Fabri, The Statesman, 7 October 1951)

The present artwork was also exhibited in Chandra's first solo exhibition in New Delhi in 1953, held by the Delhi Silpi Chakra, and then offered for sale at a show in Hotel Cecil, Delhi, in an effort to raise funds in preparation for Chandra's journey to London.

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