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Indian artists focus on the drama of The Last Supper

By: John Elliott

India’s lengthy links with Christianity, and the country’s acceptance of all religions, has been illustrated for generations by Indian artists’ fascination with the Last Supper, the pivotal meal that Jesus had with his disciples on Maundy Thursday, the eve of his crucifixion.

For Christians, the supper has non secular significance, but it completely is the drama of the evening that has inspired others who possess painted their very like interpretations – following the lead of Leonardo da Vinci’s slack 15th-century memoir mural (above) in Milan. Browsing the catch produces a mass of parodies from a pole dancer on a desk, and americans having fun with desk football, to a Looney Tunes model.

Extra severely, an on-line exhibition of 36 fresh work by Indian artists, mostly no longer Christian, is now being staged by Saffronart, the Mumbai-basically based public sale home. As has came about with earlier works, the artists possess produced a spread of settings and characters to replace the disciples, usually in conjunction with fellow artists and politicians.

Krishen Khanna’s 40in x 60in oil on canvas, “The Last Chunk”, with main artist M.F. Husain in Jesus’s seat surrounded by fellow artists – Khanna dealing with Husain

“Indians are by story-telling and India is a secular country accepting religions across the board traditionally,” says Dinesh Vazirani, Saffronart’s co-founder and CEO.

“Key topics of betrayal, sacrifice, friendship, and neighborhood” appear in the Biblical accounts of the supper, explains Ranjit Hoskote, an Indian poet and art critic in an introduction to the exhibition. “They dwell on human weakness yet moreover emphasize the human capacity to hope”. 

With that as the stimulus, contemporary Indian artists who possess interpreted the drama return to Jamini Roy, who died in 1972, but works were moreover being produced in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Well-known artists exterior India who possess painted the scene consist of The US’s Andy Warhol and China’s Zeng Fanzhi from Wuhan, an 86-in x 55-in oil on canvas that arena a document in 2013 for Asian up-to-the-minute art at a Sotheby’s public sale in Hong Kong, promoting for HK$180.44 million (US$23.3m), more than double its US$10 million estimate (above).

Krishen Khanna, 95, who has a piece in the hot exhibition titled The Last Chunk, and Francis Newton Souza, who died in 2002, were among essentially the most prolific in India. They were associates and both belonged to the Mumbai-basically based Progressives team that used to be fashioned in the mid-20th century – as did M.F.Husain, who moreover produced works, one of which offered for $1.1m in October 2017.

F.N. Souza’s well-known rendering of The Last Supper with an recurring image of Jesus surrounded by distorted lopsided faces traditional of the artist’s earlier works

Khanna has instructed me that he used to be launched to da Vinci when he used to be 5 and his father brought a duplicate serve from Milan. “He explained the painting to me and that used to be my introduction to the Bible in a formula,” says Khanna who, although Hindu, has developed a detailed recordsdata of the religion. 

He went to Christian schools “the put we were instructed we could perhaps per chance sit down apart while Christianity used to be being taught, but it completely fascinated me to listen to, per chance more than the others and take a look at what came about and how suave Christ used to be.” His associate is a Bengali Christian, although he thinks his education had a increased affect on him.”

Khanna specializes in the characteristic of Judas, who betrayed Jesus, seeing it as “practically a in fashion phenomenon, with the supper showing him going serve on what he with out a doubt believed in.” That, he says, is “one thing that’s going down right here this day in India.”

“All the article rests on Judas’s betrayal and Christ knew that it used to be going to happen.” Indian artists, he says, “perceive what’s going down and take a look at it is a query of tragedy with victory at the tip.”

Madhvi Parekh’s 60in x 120in reverse acrylic on acrylic sheet untitled folks art styled work of unknown characters

In his painting, which used to be carried out more than 10 years prior to now and is not always for sale, Husain is seated pretty than Jesus, surrounded by up-to-the-minute artists. Khanna says that’s because Husain used to be “rather central to the art scene, a pivotal figure and rather the leader in perspective, looked up to by most of his peers”. 

He provides, pretty mischievously, alternatively, that “there is no such thing as a particular Judas in the describe and I walk away it to anybody who knows the order of affairs to apportion that put of abode”. The desk is sq., which Khanna explains, “leads the look for from the bottom to the head the put Christ is in the center – a more identifiable and sacrosanct put of abode than in the da Vinci.”

Jesus and his disciples survey down from a domed ceiling in this 48-in diameter acrylic and fabric on canvas, by Jagannath Panda, titled The Last Supper

Souza used to be born a Roman Catholic in Portuguese Goa, but lapsed, which resulted in him producing USmany tortured work round a faith “that fascinated and revolted him in equal measure,” in step with one interpretation.

His finest known Last Supper (above) used to be painted in 1990 and used to be owned for some time by the Eastern Glenbarra Museum, which offered it for sale in a Sotheby’s Mumbai public sale in November 2019. It fetched a hammer model equivalent to US$960,000 but the sale did no longer walk by following a dispute all the scheme by the public sale over whether or no longer Souza used to be the sole artist or used to be helped by his then muse (who induced the dispute). One more work owned by the Glenbarra had been offered two years earlier for US$390,000) in a Pundole Mumbai public sale.

This six-unit 44in x 89in blended media on paper untitled work is by Phaneendra Nath Chaturvedi who, the catalogue says, “unapologetically unmasks the ladies and males he draws in his massive-format works to teach the grotesque, robotic creatures he believes they genuinely are.”

Prices in the Saffronart teach differ from the equivalent of about $13,500) up to US$150,000 for a massive bronze sculpture of Jesus’s head in entrance of a foul and US$120,000 for a massive 48in x 120in oil on canvas by Thota Vaikuntam of his characteristic south Indian Telangana villagers. Additionally following a acquainted theme, is G. R. Iranna with rows of Buddhist monks in yellow robes eating from bowls of rice.

Husband and associate artists Manu and Madhvi Parekh are both well-known for his or her Last Supper works and both appear in the teach. Manu, who is a follower of Souza, has 13 panels showing heads and shoulders of public figures standing in for the disciples, among them artists, actors, and politicians. Madhvi’s is a more dramatic work comparable to folks art with a spread of figures. One more artist, Veer Munshi, moreover favors a cluster of fellow artists.

There are numerous diversified interpretations, some shown above, in the Saffronart teach. Assembled by two curators, Tanuj Berry & Saman Malik, they amount to what many could perhaps per chance presumably take a look at as an unlikely sequence in this day’s India.

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