Inside the Empty Box

A retrospective of Prabhakar Barwe

MAP is delighted to loan artworks to the Prabhakar Barwe retrospective, ‘Inside the Empty Box’ at the NGMA, Mumbai.


8 February, 2019 - 8 March, 2019
National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai

MAP loans three canvases of pioneering modern artist, Prabhakar Barwe, for a new retrospective exhibition – Inside the Empty Box – curated by Jesal Thacker of the Bodhana Arts and Research Foundation and Shruti Das (Deputy Curator of NGMA, Mumbai).

Attempting to decode and decipher the multi-dimensionality of Barwe’s practice, using design, composition, writing and diary notations, this exhibition seeks to provide insight into his life and work. A selection of the artist’s diaries will also be exhibited in order to create a laboratory of thoughts, forms and concepts that influence his experiments.

Prabhakar Barwe (1936–1995) was born into a family of artists, and was initiated into the Sir J.J. School of Arts by his grand uncle Vinayak Pandurang Karmarkar who laid the foundation for his interest in art. From a very young age, Barwe sought to define his own language and transitioned from the academic style adopted by Karmarkar into working with the newer notions of modernism and abstraction prevalent in the fifties and sixties. His practice did not seek to negate the figure however, and through choosing to include mundane objects in relation to the figure, Barwe was to create a unique and unconventional order of things wherein the object became the subject.

Space forms an integral aspect of Barwe’s pictorial language, and the artist was intrigued by the relationship between the inner spaces of our minds and the outer spaces that contains us and our art. He began to redefine this space – creating a distinctive order using objects from his daily life (outer space) and translating them into a notation of forms on the canvas that do not adhere to the outer order. His paintings philosophize life and the process of perception, rather than depicting a reality. Barwe imbibed everything he saw in his surrounding into his art; the mundane became his muse. Static reality found poetic rhythm in his compositions. Empty spaces held the canvas with floating formations. Objects lost their essence, only to be transformed into space-form logic as the paintings were then perceived within the quantum of an empty box.


About the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai

The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai, is located at the erstwhile Sir Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall, the facade of which has been retained as a historical landmark of the city. Opening in 1996 with an exhibition on the Progressive Artists’ Group which served as a nucleus for the contemporary art movement in the country, it is dedicated to representing the best of modern and contemporary Indian art.

About the Bodhana Arts and Research Foundation

Established in 2015, the Bodhana Arts and Research Foundation is a non-profit organisation whose primary mandate is to work on the legacy and archives of those artists from India’s modern period who have not been historicised or theorised sufficiently. Their focus also extends to contemporary artists who have a rigorous and distinctive way of responding to history and the contemporary moment.

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