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Hand-crafted World: Life, Culture, and Folk-Art of 20th Century India

Updated: Jul 26, 2023


Hand Crafted-World: A Photography Exhibition Celebrating Life, Culture & Folk-Art of 20th Century India

Works by Raghav Kaneria

On view July 7 - July 29, 2023


Frost Gallery


Artist Statement:

English is not my primary language, nor am I good at expressing my thoughts through writing. I primarily communicate through my art creations. Regardless, here is my modest attempt.


My mother was a folk artist. Growing up in Saurashtra region of Gujarat (India), her detailed

preparatory embroidery drawings inspired me to pursue art from young age. In the old times of Raja/Maharaja, classical art forms like painting, sculpture, music, vocal, instrumental, dance did well because of the support of the ruling royal class. In stark contrast, without any financial support or backing of ruling class, not only did folk-art came into existence

but flourished and thrived. When it comes to folk-art, tribal culture, traditions, jewelry and

clothing, India has enjoyed a very rich and storied history. One can not deny, India has benefited greatly from the advancement in technology and transportation. India’s economy has expanded several folds since independence, and the country has made great strides in the field of science and technology. Cities expanded and came closer to villages. The boundaries between villages and cities blurred. Radio and television became common household center pieces in rural India. Western life and cultural influence started reshaping India’s once unique customs and traditions. No doubt, India as a country has benefited greatly in many ways from this modernization, but along the way, the country lost some of its ancient ways, unique customs, traditions, jewelry, clothing styles, regional decorative and folk-art traditions. Once I realized what was underway, I started traveling across the country, visiting remote parts and villages to do photographic documentation of rural life, the regional customs and rich traditions, the unique jewelry clothing styles of people as well as various decorative and folk-art forms before they vanish completely. The rural Indian women of the past era played pivotal role in this folk-art movement. These women were the true artists. And this photography exhibition is my humble attempt at paying homage to my mother and all the rest of women folk artists of India.

- Raghav Kane



Biography:

Born in 1936, Raghav Kaneria studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (India) between 1955 - 1961, under the tutelage of Prof. Sankho Choudhury. Kaneria was awarded Commonwealth scholarship from 1964 to 1967. During that period, he had the opportunity to study under Prof. Bernard Meadows at the Royal College of Art, London. In 1967, Kaneria was awarded Sainsbury award and taught at Walthamstow School of Arts, London (1967-69). In 1972, he was awarded visiting foreign artist fellowship and joined Hull College of Arts, England as a faculty. Kaneria then returned to India and joined Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda and went on to become Sculpture Department Chair until retirement in 1996. As a photographer, Raghav Kaneria is known for his extensive documentation of the mid/late 20th century Indian life, tribal culture, decorative and folk-art scene. Kaneria’s photographs have won several national and international prestigious awards, notably - Bronze Medals at Nikon International Photo Contest (Japan, 1976, 77), several awards at Photo Contest by A.C.C. of UNESCO (Japan), Yakult Awards (1981, 83), GraPix Award (1982), Sunpak Prize (1984) & Okamoto Prize (1988). Founding member and only sculptor of Group 1890, Raghav Kaneria’s artworks have been exhibited at many prominent group shows and venues spanning India, France, Switzerland, Japan, Russia, Germany, Belgium, United States, Canada and several other countries across the

globe. His creations can be found in the collections of National Gallery of Modern Art (New

Delhi, India), Lalit Kala Akademi (New Delhi, India), Art Council of Great Britain (London),

Fitzwilliam Museum of Cambridge (England), Royal College of Art (London), Air India and

several other galleries and institutions across the world. Kaneria is a recipient of many national and international awards, notably - Lalit Kala Akademi National Awards (1959, 63), National Scholarship (1960 – 62), Bombay Art Society Awards (Gold Medal, Silver Medal and other prizes), All India Sculptor’s Association Silver Medal (1960), All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society President of India’s Silver Plaque (1960), Kala Ratna from All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (2001), Kalidas Samman from Madhya Pradesh Government in India (2013). And many other felicitations and awards from institutions like All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (New Delhi, India), Gujarat State Lalit Kala Akademi (Ahmedabad, India), Society of Contemporary Artists (Kolkata, India) and Gujarat Kala Pratisthaan (Surat, India).

Raghav Kaneria continues to pursue his passion creating sculptures, drawings, other forms of artworks and practicing the art of photography.

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