“Bharat Ratna,” which translates literally to the “Jewel of India,” presents a selection of outstanding works by some of India’s most celebrated modern painters. Drawn from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Rajiv Jahangir Chaudhri, the exhibition focuses on a generation of artists that emerged in the years following India’s independence from British rule in 1947. Luminaries such as Francis Newton Souza, Maqbool Fida Husain, and Sayed Haider Raza—founding members of the Progressive Artists Group—formed an important and influential artistic avant-garde at this transitional moment in India’s history. Their paintings are an international synthesis of visual traditions, embracing western modernism on the one hand and a heritage colored by the rich narrative of Indian art, myths, and classical traditions on the other.
The divergent works in “Bharat Ratna! Jewels of Modern Indian Art” highlight the fascinating dialogue and mediation between the traditional and modern, the indigenous and foreign, and the sacred and secular as Indian artists sought an independent identity that could define their country’s new nationhood.