K. Singh, India Modern, Narratives from 20th Century Indian Art, DAG Modern, 2015, p. 174
K. Singh, A Visual History of Indian Modern Art, Volume Seven: Alternate Sensibilities, DAG, New Delhi, 2015, p. 1403
K. Singh, Manifestations XI, DAG, New Delhi, 2014, p. 126
Having rejected the academic realist technique he had assimilated at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay, Hebbar was in constant search for a compelling personal style that better suited the themes he yearned to explore. In addition to his art education in Bombay, the artist was exposed to Western styles during his stint at the Académie Julian in Paris where he was influenced by the art of Paul Gauguin and in particular Amrita Sher- Gil. In his work, Hebbar sought to create his own style that blended the ancient and the modern. Throughout his career he experimented with a gamut of themes spanning indigenous folk traditions to Western Modernism in his quest to formulate a personal idiom that encapsulated not merely a visual but also a sensory response to his subjects and surroundings.
Hebbar’s sympathy for the poor and those suffering from displacement, conflict or famine is embodied in paintings like this and other acclaimed works of this period such as Paisa (1960) and Drywood (1968). Within Hebbar’s oeuvre, scenes of happiness and play are rife, but also coexist with the more muted themes of war and unrest, as seen in this painting. The artist’s awe of the figurative form is tempered by the distinct awareness of destruction and pity.
‘'From the very beginning of my life as a painter it has been my aim to be able to express my joys and sorrows through color and line as freely as a child expresses hunger by crying or its joy by laughter. For this purpose I had to learn the vocabulary of art and also to draw sustenance from the vast treasure accumulated from the past and practiced at present all over the world." (K.K. Hebbar, Voyage in Images, Jehangir Art Gallery, Bombay, 1991, Introduction)
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