19 Dec 2018

JS Khanderao retrospective at NGMA Bengaluru

'through the window: JS Khanderao retrospective' an exhibition curated by NGMA Bengaluru is currently on in the city


By Shraddha Nair

'through the window: JS Khanderao retrospective' an exhibition curated by NGMA Bengaluru
The exhibition showcases around two hundred artworks of JS Khanderao which includes drawings, portraits, landscapes, abstracts, and folk. This exhibition explores the practice of Khanderao for more than four decades as a painter and also exposes his remarkable contribution to the art field as a tutor, founder of an art institute 'The Ideal Fine Art Society' established in 1963 in Gulbarga which is of great significance.

Born in 1940 in Gulbarga, Khanderao graduated from the JJ School of Art in Mumbai. Highly regarded for his realistic portrait paintings and landscapes, and as an accomplished painter of evocative portraits and atmospheric landscapes, the retrospective offers a glimpse into his journey. 

Khanderao's artistic quest leads him to abstraction as well. He looks at nature and his immediate surroundings through the lens of abstraction, with a careful construction of his canvases. His abstract paintings link his trajectory from Gulbarga to “Bombay”- Nutan Kala Mandir and the J.J.School of Art _one of the premier art schools established in the colonial era, this art school became a benchmark for artists from outside the state. The vast oeuvre of Khanderao's includes figuration influenced by the unique folk traditions of North Karnataka capturing the performative situations of the folks who are represented in abstract planes of colours.


Being a native of Karnataka, Khanderao spent much of his life documenting the land and culture that he experienced first-hand. His visual renditions of the traditional folk practices are a treat for the eyes. A personal favourite was his depiction of the Chowdamman Kunita ritual. He has also brought plain canvas to life with the unique landscapes of Badami, Pattadakal, Surpur & Hampi – portraying the stunning styles of ancient temples.

'through the window: JS Khanderao retrospective' an exhibition curated by NGMA Bengaluru
Also on display is the series ‘Windows’, a sequence of paintings inspired by the way light escapes through glass panes. It is arguably his most highly regarded work. When asked about the conception of this series he says, “There was an annual Karnataka exhibition and I needed to create some new work for it. While in Gulbarga, I noticed the beauty of broken windows and imagined it and rendered in paint. I received the Lalit Kala award for this painting in 1982… This painting impressed many people during the exhibition. It was the first of the series ‘Windows’ and it was the Governor of Karnataka that encouraged me to take this further”. “Broken Glass” from the same series stands out for its brilliance. There is a tactility to this piece which draws you in, visceral and enchanting at the same time. 
'through the window: JS Khanderao retrospective' an exhibition curated by NGMA Bengaluru
The unexpected takeaway from the show was his series of portraits, dating circa 1985 to 2006, which showcases his incredible understanding of light and dark components of each and every pigment that touched his canvas. Khanderao explains,“I experimented a lot with colours and would make many pieces. I didn’t want other people’s influence or similarity to other artists’ works in my own art. It should be unique and individualistic”.
The exhibition will be on view till 30th December 2018, daily from 11.00 am to 6.30 pm (Mondays and National Holidays closed)

Update: The exhibition is extended to Jan 20, 2019

Images: Courtesy NGMA

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About: Shraddha Nair is a recent design school graduate with a fondness for art, art history and is a believer in the potential of art as a community influencer. 

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