As one of the founders of the Progressive Artists’ Group and an idealist who was once imprisoned for participating in MK Gandhi’s salt satyagraha, KH Ara seemed to have acquired a somewhat avuncular air in the art scene of ’40s and’50s Bombay. That was rudely challenged when he got into nudes. And he got into nudes in a big way—the word ‘obsessive’ has been used to describe this sudden fascination. But Ara’s nudes came in for a lot of criticism. Compared to those of contemporaries like Souza, these paintings were not sexual, shocking or even very explicit. But there’s a sensuousness to Ara’s work even if the subjects seem guarded in certain places, throwing sidelong looks over a shoulder or hurrying to cover up. Shy and respectful as the artist’s gaze seems, it also captures the spread of the hips, the arch of the back and the gentle swell of the breasts in an intimate, utterly infatuated way that has its own appeal.
This painting is part of our first digital exhibition, Body and Soul.
MediumWatercolor and soft-pastel on paper
DimensionsH: 75.0 cm x W: 54.6 cm
Genre: Modern & Contemporary Art