For millennia, Banaras has captured the imagination of poets, writers, philosophers and artists. Its sacredness, music, textiles and food have been extensively explored and commented upon, and it has been a muse for countless artists, who have found an abundance of inspiration on the ghats that skirt the Ganga and in city’s narrow streets and crowded alleyways.
This vision now finds a home in Banaras in an exciting exhibition that is an ode to the numerous artists who have turned to it for inspiration. Curated by DAG at the invitation of the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Eternal Banaras tracks the exciting journey of artists, beginning with 18th and 19th century travelling artists who were drawn to the holy city. Thomas Daniell and William Daniell, James Princeps and John Dalrymple were among the earliest European artists to arrive here, and their views of the city are among the most celebrated, along with those of painters such as Julian Barrow and Alexander Scott.
Indian artists of the realistic and modern tradition followed soon after, finding the bustling ghats a source of endless renewal in their practice. Some artists, such as Ram Kumar and Manu Parekh, kept returning to the city to paint; their works have been included in the exhibition along with those of LM Sen, LN Taskar, Radhacharn Bagchi, Ramendranath Chakravorty, MF Husain and others. Sculptors such as Latika Katt and Madan Lal, both of them based in Banaras, have contributed to the exhibition too.
No exhibition on Banaras would be complete without the notable contribution of photographers whose endless gaze has enriched our visual pleasure of Banaras. From Western photographers to their Indian counterparts, from studios such as Samuel Bourne to the creative lens of Raghu Rai, India’s most eminent photographer, and Nemai Ghosh shooting Satyajit Ray while filming on the river’s steps—rare images and views make up part of this extensive exhibition.
This exciting collaboration between DAG and the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India brings to Banaras DAG’s incredible research and curatorial strengths in an exemplary manner, aimed at informing viewers about the great art created in, or about, the endless possibilities offered by eternal Banaras.
Eternal Banaras will remain on view till March 31, 2020.