Art historian’s book launched at first B. M. Anand exhibition

The first exhibition of previously unseen works by the late Indian artist Brij Mohan (B.M.) Anand inspired a new book by Kent art historian Dr Grant Pooke.

The exhibition, Narratives for Indian Modernity: The Aesthetic of B.M.Anand (Harper Collins), opens at the India International Centre in New Delhi on 12 May. Dr Pooke, of the School of Arts, co-authored the  monograph of the same name, with biographer Aditi Anand (no relation to subject), will be launched at the same time.

B.M. Anand (1928-86) was an accomplished and largely self-taught artist. His life intersected with some of the events which framed modern India; both Anand and his father were radicalised following the massacre at Amritsar in which Anand’s older brother was among the first to die. Some of his early portraits were exhibited in what became Pakistan just before Partition. Anand’s Communist Party affiliations resulted in the formal confiscation of his passport by the Indian government during a period of heightened Cold War tensions.

The monograph draws upon archival research and interviews with family and peers and follows the discovery and partial restoration of a substantial archive of work by the late artist in New Delhi in 2012. Around 90 works will be shown, many of them never before seen in public.

In addition to exploring Anand’s life and biography, Dr Pooke’s monograph provides a critical evaluation of the iconography and political context to a series of Cold War era scratchboards undertaken by Anand between the early 1950s through to the early 1980s. His distinctive aesthetic was equally grounded in a profound belief in the ability of ordinary men and women to fashion their own lives and futures.

The exhibition and monograph launch will include a panel discussion moderated by the curator and art historian Dr Alka Pande and involving Dr Manesh Sharma, Minister of State, Culture & Tourism, Pavan Varma, Sudhanva Deshpande, Orijit Sen, Aditi Anand and Dr Grant Pooke. The film maker Imtiaz Ali will be the guest of honour.