January 1, On This Day
Popularly known as Paris Viswanathan, Velu Viswanathan is one of the several artists sharing a birthday on January 1. He was born in 1940 in Kollam (Kerala), and went on to study under noted painter, KCS Paniker, also assisting him in in setting up Cholamandal Artists’ Village. The contemporary artist has participated in many international and national art festivals, including Biennale de Paris and the International Biennale of Engraving at Ljubljana. Well-known spaces like Aarhus, Galerie de France, Centre Georges Pompidou, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi and National Gallery of Modern Art have staged his one man shows and retrospectives. He was also honoured with the Chevalier des arts et letters by the French Government in 2005 and the Raja Ravi Varma Award in 2018. His art is often abstract and strongly symbolic of historical touchpoints and cultural observations.
Mohammed Yusuf Khatri
Mohammed Yusuf Khatri hails from a family that has been working in the trade of traditional Alizarin Bagh print since 7th Century. Born 1967, in village of Bagh, Madhya Pradesh, his name is synonymous with the traditional craft of Bagh print — so much so that in a tableau displayed at the Republic Day celebration parade in 2011, Khatri exhibited a live demonstration of the craft on the float. Interestingly, Khatri’s family used to prefabricate traditional dresses for persons belonging to different castes in tribal areas of Bagh block of Dhar district — each fabric became a unique cultural mark of the community the person hailed from, be it Maroo, Jat, Meghwal, Mahajan, Bhil, Bhilala or more. However, after 1990, it is reported that Khatri conducted new experiments on the clothes for the urban market and accomplished block printing by hand, incorporating modernity in the wooden blocks and colours. He managed to extend the craft to materials beyond cloth, including bamboo mats, leather, jute and more, which some say is a unique sample of such art in the world.
Known for helping and influencing thousands of young artists in India, Prafulla Dahanukar was an Indian painter and leader in modern Indian art. Born in Goa in 1934, Dahanukar shared a studio in the seminal Bulabhai Desai Institute in Mumbai with V. S. Gaitonde. She joined the Indian Progressives Group or artists from 1956-1960. Since 1961, she participated in numerous international exhibitions across England, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Japan, Portugal, Iceland and France. Her artistic talent created murals in ceramic, wood and glass that adorn prominent buildings in Mumbai, Pilani, Kolkata and Muscat (Oman). Dahanukar tended to paint abstract landscapes in generally one vivid and dominant color, with myriad shades and subtlety. She called her paintings ‘Eternal Space’ as she believed that space is unending and couldn’t be destroyed. When she passed away in 2014, her husband Dilip Dahanukar began the Prafulla Dahanukar Art Foundation (PDAF), which has grown into one of the largest awarders of fellowships to emerging artists all over India.
A Bangladeshi artist, Mohammad Kibria was born on January 1, 1929, and passed away of old-age complications in Dhaka in 2011, at the ripe old age of 82. He had actually studied at the Government School of Art at the University of Calcutta, India in 1950, and besides being an artist of note, also served as a lecturer at the then Government College of Arts and Crafts (now Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka). Of note is that from 1959 until 1962, Kibria studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts, watching the works of modern masters and receiving training under world-famous contemporary abstractionists. Over his career, his influence on art shifted from the neo-Bengal School to the European masters, including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as well to the emerging style of art such as impressionism, post-impressionism and expressionism. His paintings often have a dark and fading tonality, exuding earthiness and desolation.
A French surrealist poet-author born on this day in 1898, Valentine Penrose was also a well-known collagist. She is perhaps best known for her biography of the serial killer Elizabeth Báthory. For a female artist of her time it was unconventional for a woman to illustrate such erotic and violent works. Penrose was interested in female mysticism, Eastern philosophy, Western mysticism, alchemy and the occult. In the 1940s, Penrose made surrealist collages. Penrose’s collage artwork utilizes formal elements of Surrealism while disapproving of the conceptual aspects of Surrealist art, most often in relation to gender roles. She was most outspoken about the brutality and misogyny sometimes depicted by Surrealists and was highly critical of certain figures within the movement, such as Max Ernst, who was also notable for his use of collage as a medium. Lesbian love, in particular, is an important theme in much of Penrose’s work. Dons des Féminines (1951) combines her collages and poetry.