Rediscover horses through art

An exhibition by Hyderabad’s Kalakriti Art Gallery puts the spotlight on how artists have depicted horses over the centuries

An untitled painting by Diptish Ghosh Dastidar, dated 2006, tips its hat to horses on the battlefields of yore. The horse is in full gallop, carrying a warrior, and the artist captures it in flight from a low vantage point, to highlight its majesty. Archival Mughal school of paintings give us glimpses of ornately decked horses occupying a pride of place in the kingdom. A contemporary painting by G R Iranna turns its gaze on horses in the changing urban landscape. Hyderabad’s Kalakriti Art Gallery, which has several paintings of horses in its collection, decided to showcase how they have been depicted by traditional and contemporary artists through an exhibition titled Where Did The Horses Go?, curated by Kallol Ray.

In his curatorial note, Ray draws attention to how artists and writers have been fascinated by horses that stand as symbols of vitality and strength. While paintings of horses by Picasso and M F Husain continue to be popular in art circles, Ray wonders if horses have disappeared from the collective imagination of late. The exhibition is an attempt to rediscover horses through art.

Archival paintings from Delhi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Kishangarh, Kota and Bundi school of paintings are a throwback to an era when horses were part of royalty. The bedecked horses framed in the Mughal gardens or on the battlefield, going from being utterly tranquil to aggressive, all find an expression in these watercolour paintings.

In contrast to these traditional paintings are the contemporary ones by artists such as Vasundhara Tewari Broota, Avijit Dutta and S N Sujith. In Way Back Home, Vasundhara looks at horses returning home and frames them against a textured, earthy landscape. Avijit Dutta re-imagines the horse in the context of celebratory musical bands in festive occasions. He places a member of a musical band and the horse in a stage-like setting, bathed in golden light.

By Vasundhara Tewari Broota

Muzaffar Ali looks at the horses as keepers of secrets in his dreamy palette while S N Sujith uses them metaphorically. He leaves it to the viewer to look beyond the obvious. A line of men, from a distance, appear to take the shape of a horse in one painting. In another, a closer look at the glorious greens of the jungles can allude to horse-like patterns.

The exhibition features more than 40 paintings. The other artworks are by P J George Martin, Jatin Das, Renuka Sondhi Gulati, Seema Kohli, Shyamal Dutta Ray, Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya, Subrata Gangopadhyay, Sunil Das and Unnati Singh.

Where Did the Horses Go? is on view at Kalakriti Art Gallery, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, till October 23 and online at kalakritiartgallery.com

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