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In the post liberalized India , Groups are vanishing fast. This has predominantly two basic reasons.

Firstly the artists are experiencing a wide spectrum of influence and thus the relevance of groups has reduced these days. A few groups that do exist do not show any coherence but rather exhibit a need to stick together more for financial management than any binding philosophy. In fact some of the noted artists of today like Sudip Roy or Paresh Maity work rather independently than in groups.

Paresh Maiti


Highly stylized and differentiated works of present generation artists: Paresh Maity (above) and Devajyoti Ray (below)


Devajyoti Roy

The second reason why the successful artists of the newer generation are averse to group-making is that the viewers today are more learned and open-minded and are willing to accept newer concepts. Devajyoti Ray for example had single-handedly grafted the brand new concept of Pseudorealism into Indian art scene without the bandwagon of a group



Since the beginning of eighteenth century, artists have shown tendencies to from groups while showcasing their works to the larger public. This has often proved necessary when artists have tried to put forward a common view or style. In Europe mostly important groups rallied around a common style of work. Thus early impressionists formed groups when their works were yet to gain wider recognition and cubists stuck together when their style was only gathering ridicule.

This rallying around a common idea is seen in the pre-independence India too. Most Bengal School artists like Abanindranath Tagore and Nandalal Bose used to hold their annual exhibitions jointly. With their effort and with patronage of the wealthy Bengali families, in 1907, the Indian Society of Oriental Arts was founded. The groupís paintings had over-zealous nationalistic overtones. So strong were these sentiments, that any entry made in traditional English realistic tradition was instantly rejected.

Painting of Gaganendranath Tagore

Chinese watercolour technique (left) adopted by the Bengal School artists as an alternative to oil works of the Company School. A work of Gobardhan Ash of the later day Bengal School. (right)

Gobardhan Ash

This strictness was greatly resented by younger artists like Jamini Roy, Atul Bose and others who thus had to start their own show in the open corridor of Indian Museum without the benefit of much patronage of the Bengali elite. This Group for a short time was called the Rebel Centre of Art. This was the beginning of one of the most prolific groups of the time.

In post independence period, the most important Group of Bengal had been the Young Artists' Union, which was later rechristened as the Calcutta Group, which ran parallel to the Progressive Artistsí Group of Bombay. This group consisted of some of the most well known names of Bengal Art: Ramkinkar Baij, Abani Sen, Partitosh Sen , Pradosh Dasgupta and for a certain amount of time Zainul Abedin

Bikash Bhattacharya

Works of Society of conteporary artists as shown here do not in any way adhere to any common underlying philosophy

Jogen Choudhuri

But after independence the relevance of groups reduced drastically. The earlier philosophy of making nationalistic art works was no longer appealing to the artists of an independent country. For some time issues like communism, etc kept the artists together. But in course of time, so much of variety came into Indian art that no common ideology could keep the artists together. Thus important groups like Prokash Karmakarís Society of Artists, Shuvaprasannaís Art and Artists in City, and Jogen Chaudhuri 's Calcutta Painters Group, etc all fizzled out. The only surviving group in Bengal today is the Society of Contemporary Artists, whose members include the doyens of Present day Bengal Art: Ganesh Paine, Ganesh Haloi, Jogen Chaudhuri, Panesar and Manu Parekh . But this Society also does not bind the artists in any common philosophy or ism.




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