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MODERN ART versus REALISM

Updated: Sep 26, 2021


A webinar was organised by Romartika to explore the relevance of realistic art in today's world when art has moved far from it over past two hundred years in the west. Physical likeness held the centre-stage of painting until two hundred years ago but since the days of French revolution and Industrial revolution, art shifted track and ventured beyond the frontier of convention and protocol.


Camera reproduced the likeness of the façade whereas the artist got on with the mission of capturing deeper realities on existence.


But in Indian context, even this day, a large section of artists pursue realistic painting. At times photo realism. The question is if it makes much sense today. Will such paintings make any dent in the history of art any more? Will such classical realism contribute to the development of art in the coming days?

Above questions were discussed and debated in the webinar.


The panel consisted of artist Prakash Ambegaonkar, artist Joao Marques, artist Samipendu Datta, artist-cum-author Pooja Sonkar, artist-cum-publisher Priya Yabaluri and author Saikat Baksi. In course of discussion, a few very interesting observations emerged.


Artist Prakash Ambegaonkar explained how objectivity was replaced by subjectivity during the advent of impressionism. It was not only the technical miracle of paints in tubes but also a paradigm shift in depicting an object on canvas. The impressionists painted the objects as they saw; not as they are supposed to look like.


Pooja Sonkar presented the entire history of art in a fleeting display of few slides to convey how the spirit of art transformed from what was in the caves of Altamira to the balloon dogs of Jeff Koons. Her observation about impressionism was also equally curious. She said, 'For the first time, each stroke stood out on its own right.' In her view it was the manifestation of true socialist spirit on canvas on the impressionists.


Priya Yabaluri's paintings were taken up as a reference to understand even a landscape can be painted today with surreal aura without compromising likeness. One does not need to copy the exact shade and tone of the sky or mountain but still depict the spirit as profound as the real one.


Joao Marques form Portugal, being a proponent of Neutralism, the most recent movement in art, explained why classical realism draws a small boundary around the artist and restricts freedom whereas modern art sets the creative soul free into the wild.


Samipendu, the youngest of the group, pointed out that the art colleges impose a dilemma to the budding artists about the path to be chosen in future. Being groomed through strict guidelines and conventions, the students are often not clear about their choices.


Artist Devayani Thakre from the audience expressed her view loud and clear , 'One must decide if the artwork being created is to impress others or express oneself!'


Overall, it was a highly charged exchange of views that enriched the audience.

The entire video of the webinar can be watched here.




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