Right now, it seems like the artist of the moment is Narayan Shridhar Bendre. After a successful show in Kolkata, New Delhi's Vadehra Art Gallery has recently put up 51 works by the modernist master in an exhibition that celebrates his dexterity with watercolour.
N.S. Bendre, who was born in Indore in 1910 and passed away in Mumbai in 1992 at the age of 81, was a lifelong lover of the medium. "In fact, back in the 1940s, my father was a much sought-after watercolour specialist in the Bombay art world. Even though a science student, he had a gift for drawing from a young age, a talent he later honed at Dattaray Deolalikar's art school in Indore," says his Mumbai-based son, Padmanabh N. Bendre.
Featuring a selection of figurative as well as landscape paintings, the works on display are from Padmanabh's personal collection. They cover the full arc of the artist's prodigious career—for example, the earliest dated work is from 1938 and the latest from 1992, the year of his death. "I love how Bendre moved seamlessly between subjects of landscapes, figurative painting and pure abstraction. Not restricting himself to form or colour, he explored the different themes in various styles ranging from academic studies to impressionism, and eventually pointillism as well," says Roshini Vadehra, director at Vadehra Art Gallery.
Joy Through Art
Speaking to AD India, Padmanabh points out that his father enjoyed painting outdoors, a preference he attributes to his rigorous academic training at Mr. Deolalikar's art school. "Himself an alumnus of Sir J.J. School of Art, Mr. Deolalikar was a strong proponent of nature painting. He was a great teacher and he always emphasized outdoor sketching, introducing his students to the importance of line, perspective and shadow and how to observe nature at different hours of the day in order to study the rapidly changing light conditions," Padmanabh says. "My father never stepped out of home without loose sheets of paper or sketch pads and a set of colours in his bag and whenever he found a good spot, he would sit and paint. These works you see are not painted in the studio at all. All were done on site."