by Team ACF
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Re-citations: rhymes about land, water and sky Six Decades of Painting

Guest Curator: Roobina Karode
Preview: 29 February 2024 | 6:00 pm onwards

ON VIEW: 1 MARCH – 13 APRIL 2024; Timings: 3.00 PM – 8.00 PM; Closed on Mondays & Public Holiday
Venue: Birla Academy of Art and Culture, 108- 109, Southern Avenue, Lake Terrace, Kolkata- 700029

Program and outreach partner: Akar Prakar, Kolkata

Kolkata/ New Delhi, February 23, 2024: The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art is delighted to be in Kolkata
and in collaboration with the Birla Academy of Art and Culture to present the first ever large-scale
exhibition of eminent artist Ganesh Haloi in his own city. The selected artworks span six decades of
painting. From his early works with imprints of figural images to ever transforming colour fields
where nuances of abstraction allude to personal memories and affective experiences that shaped his
responses to nature and architecture.

“I try to paint a land that is my own. My land. With my rules. It
has no resemblance to nature. It is the struggle to create this land
that makes the process of painting interesting….”

Haloi’s early works captured the various impulses observed in the natural environment – flood, breeze, ploughing of land or crossing of the river. The mighty Brahmaputra as the lifeline and its various moods, the marshy lands and rich aquatic life all come back to Haloi when he recalls his house in Jamalpur
on the river banks. Water used to enter their aangan/courtyard often when the river became forceful. The
‘aangan’ as the first enclosure experienced as a child, both fenced and open, protective and vulnerable at the same time, evolved into leitmotif recurrent in Haloi’s artistic oeuvre. Later on, Haloi’s visual imagination stretched this primordial form of spatial enclosure into an expansive field, with the closed boundary left broken or incomplete, allowing recollections to flood-in. It is the earth and the way the earth moves, its seasons and cycles, its space and time continuum that are ruminations closest to Haloi’s life and his art. His biographical writings abundantly and vividly recount earth as the matter and metaphor for life.

Over the years Haloi’s artistic preoccupations have intensified around re-composing land, his layered pictorial ground receptive to details awakened by memory and imagination. Abstraction in its most
subdued iterations unbinds the tangible site and dissolves the definiteness of objects to emphasize the
poetics inherent in a fragment, a minute detail, a shadow, a trace or a perceptive moment. His pictorial
fields with borders and enclosures open up to swatches of ploughed and sown fields, amorphous water bodies with deeper colours, a filigree of fluorescent fragments and muted imprints.

He neither claimed to be a landscape painter nor a pure abstractionist. In his minimalistic works, one can register an orchestration of formal elements laid out not for simple delectation but for posing new
problems as well. His instinctive notational drawings that exude the joy of creative play are like free-verse
writings. Just like his persona, Haloi’s paintings neither try to overwhelm the viewer or overstate; instead in their restrained composure, they accommodate the unspoken and the silent gesture.
His brilliant gouaches on paper, his fluent Chinese ink drawings on Japanese scroll paper and tempera on
board, along with his select works on Ajanta will embellish the exhibition. With more than hundred
works on display, this exhibition celebrates Haloi’s irrefutable contribution to Indian art through his
unique oeuvre and vision.

About the Artist
Ganesh Haloi (b.1936) was born in Jamalpur, Mymensingh (now in Bangladesh). He moved to
Calcutta in 1950 following the Partition of India. The trauma of displacement left its mark on his work
as it did on some other painters of his generation. Since then his art has exhibited an innate lyricism
coupled with a sense of nostalgia for a lost world. In 1956, he graduated from the Government
College of Art and Craft, Calcutta. In the next year, he was appointed by the Archaeological Survey of
India to make copies of Ajanta murals. Seven years later, Haloi returned to Calcutta. From 1963 until
his retirement, he taught at the Government College of Art and Crafts. He has been a Member of The
Society of Contemporary Artists, Calcutta since 1971.
He has participated in several group exhibitions in India, Documenta 14 at Athens & Kassel,
Greece/Germany; Architecture of Life, at Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archives at BAM/PFA,
Berkeley, California; 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Berlin; A Special Arrow Was Shot in
the Neck, David Roberts Art Foundation, London; and over the edge, crossing the line five artists
from Bengal at KNMA, Delhi. He is represented by Akar Prakar Kolkata and New Delhi, and has had
various solo exhibitions in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Dhaka and New York including Re-citing Land at
The Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation, CSMVS, Mumbai in collaboration with KNMA, Delhi 2022;
The Architectonics of Form at Akar Prakar Kolkata and New Delhi in 2022, Form & Play at Asia Week
New York in 2020 to name a few. The artist lives and works in Calcutta, India.

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