Hyderabad’s Kalakriti Art Gallery exhibition sheds light on how artists have depicted horses over the centuries
An untitled painting by Diptish Ghosh Dastidar, dated 2006, takes its hat off to horses on the battlefields of yesteryear. The horse is galloping, carrying a warrior, and the artist captures him in flight from a low point of view, to highlight his majesty. The archival Mughal school of painting gives us glimpses of richly decorated horses occupying a prominent place in the kingdom. A contemporary painting by GR Iranna turns her gaze on horses in the changing cityscape. The Kalakriti Art Gallery in Hyderabad, which has several paintings of horses in its collection, decided to show how they have been represented by traditional and contemporary artists through an exhibition called Where Did The Horses Go?, Curated by Kallol Ray.
In his conservation note, Ray draws attention to the fascination of artists and writers for horses which are symbols of vitality and strength. As Picasso and MF Husain’s horse paintings continue to be popular in art circles, Ray wonders if horses have faded from the collective imagination in recent times. The exhibition is an attempt to rediscover the horse through art.
Archival paintings from Delhi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Kishangarh, Kota, and Bundi painting schools are a throwback to a time when horses were a part of royalty. The trimmed horses framed in Mughal gardens or on the battlefield, moving from absolute calm to aggressiveness, all find expression in these watercolors.
Unlike these traditional paintings, contemporary paintings by artists such as Vasundhara Tewari Broota, Avijit Dutta and SN Sujith. In Way Back Home, Vasundhara watches the horses returning home and frames them against a textured, earthy landscape. Avijit Dutta re-imagines the horse against the backdrop of celebratory musical groups on festive occasions. He places a member of a musical group and the horse in a scenic setting, bathed in golden light.
Muzaffar Ali sees horses as keepers of secrets in his dream palette while SN Sujith uses them metaphorically. He leaves it to the viewer to look beyond the obvious. A line of men, from a distance, appears to take the form of a horse in a painting. In another, a closer look at the gorgeous jungle greens may hint at horse-like designs.
The exhibition presents more than 40 paintings. The other works are by PJ George Martin, Jatin Das, Renuka Sondhi Gulati, Seema Kohli, Shyamal Dutta Ray, Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya, Subrata Gangopadhyay, Sunil Das and Unnati Singh.
Where have the horses gone? is on view at the Kalakriti Art Gallery, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, until October 23 and online at kalakritiartgallery.com