Progressive Artists' Association, Srinagar (Kashmir)
Writers and thinkers of Kashmir, as elsewhere in the country, were also trying to establish the status of art in the region. An organization named "the National Cultural Front" was founded on the idea and principle of democracy, in November 1947. P.N. Kachru, an aspiring young artist was one of the founder-members along with a host of reputed poets, writers, dramatists and musicians. The Front became an effective organization for the propagation of freedom and democracy in Kashmir.
This was the backdrop for the emergence of the first group of artists, nicknamed 'The Trio'. In 1948 two young educated artists, S.N. Butt and Triloke Kaul, both also active in social work came into contact with Kachru and the activists of the National Cultural Front. The three artists, Kachru, Butt and Kaul, who came to be known as 'The Trio' met everyday, although they had no venue or place of their own. They would together walk, discuss and sketch. Their meetings came to be known as 'walking meetings'. In June 1948, they met Percy Brown, the ex-principal of Government School of Art and Craft, Calcutta who was then residing in Srinagar. He was a source of real inspiration to the three artists. S.H. Raza, of the Bombay Progressive Artists Group who visited Kashmir in August 1948, also became a close associate.
In October 1948, the artists renamed themselves as the 'Progressive Artists Association'. The Association held its first exhibition in Srinagar in May 1949. Percy Brown declared that 'this movement aptly represents the progressive trend by bridging the abysmal gulf of five hundred years, thus linking the tradition with the present'. The Association was in touch with Bombay's Progressive Artists Group as well as the All India Association of Fine Arts, and the Delhi Silpi Chakra.
The Association held its first exhibition outside the state in New Delhi in October 1949, which was inaugurated by Prof. Humayun Kabir. It was described by the media as the 'most colourful exhibition of the year'. Kaul, the painter of mountains and snowscapes was termed, 'a romantic expressionist'; Butt, the semi-abstract landscapist, a 'wizard of colour combinations'; and Kachru, the painter of life and people, was described as 'possessing the Rembrandesque qualities of monumentalism'.THE CONTEMPORARY ART IN INDIA - A Perspective Pran Nath Mago National Book Trust, India New Delhi, First Edition 2001 Article courtesy of: Mag. Kapil Kaul
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