Mumbai:History is not only about the Masters, it’s about the making of masters and their contemporaries. The Bombay Progressive Artists Group was formed by Souza, Raza, Ara, Gade, Bakre and Husain. The group rebelled against the the revivalist movement of the Bengal School of Art but disbanded in a short span of time to go their seperate ways. Ara, though successful, never seemed to have enjoyed the glamour. He, along with Husain had no orthodox art education (these were the only amongst Progressives without formal education). Ara is the complexity in every simple man. His art depicts the pleasure of ability of expression, thus it is intriguing with its raw quality and can be subsumed in the main course of art history.
Ara’s body of work can be divided into three main categories, the still life, the nudes and the other depictions, which are few but significant. The still life is a combination of landscape and objects, a vase in the window opens up to the mountains behind, many times with flowers. The colours are extremely vibrant, flowers in full bloom. The vases seem to be standing in the space alone, in full spring, shining away in all their glory. In a spectacular work with yellow flowers where the background is a landscape with clouds of a good sunny day; the main vase is such that the skies seem naturally around them, and seldom does one wonder about the abstract conception. Like Matisse, the subject of stills do not necessarily show the influence of Matisse, rather it seems like a rebel vision of showing the presence of beauty in common everyday objects.
His use of light and shade is specific to his style, along with the impasto effect, like looking at visions from gaps in walls or holes in doors. The artist's work was not a landscape, neither was it a vase and the flowers. Its Ara’s perception of self, done using the concept/percept at hand. Ara's sensuous and simple nudes, are much more intriguing, for their austere and earthy selves. It seems incredible how Ara could draw nudes devoid of the gaze, almost as if it came out of his mind, like still frozen moments from negatives. In some pictures, the nudes are coupled with still life, somehow one is confused whether the vase is in background or the nude.
K.H. Ara - A Private Collection is a showcase of works belonging to a collection of an eminent family from Mumbai. The exhibition is an attempt to showcase varied themes of works spanning the artist’s long career and to pay homage to this simple yet important artist of our times. The exhibition will be on view from April 7-29, 2017 at The Viewing Room in Mumbai.