We have planned this exhibition ‘War or Peace?’ at Kolkata Art Gallery to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War .The Great War started on 28 July 1914 and lasted for four years. It caused the death of eight million people and collapse of three empires – Germany, Austro-Hungary and Russia. It was the first industrial war that globalised not only the technology of war and victims of it but also the structure and nature of violence, where human ethics turned to be totally inconsequential that ultimately gave rise to the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to bring a forceful end to the Second World War in 1945. The impact of First World War on human civilization and human memory is therefore devastating. It unleashed the shame on the existence of every human being.
The war had great impact on art and artists mostly in Europe. Until the First World War, barring a very few exceptions, artists and writers had witnessed the war without actually becoming involved. In 1914 for the first time they all had to take part. Fernand Leger became a stretcher bearer, Kokoschka a cavalryman, Beckman a medic, Derain an artilleryman, Camoin a camoufleur, Dix a machine gunner and so forth. The experience of destruction of war and the complexity of its technology made the artist like Fernand Leger feel, as he wrote to a friend in May 1915, ‘It (the war) was pure abstraction, much purer even than cubist painting itself,’ The comment focuses on the dehumanized face both of violence and humanity.
Since the First World War all the wars has taken a globalised structure. For every incidence of war people through out the globe suffer in some way or other. War has been a fact of every day life. There is no respite from violence. The recent American invasion in Iraq, Israeli attack on Palestine, incidents in Croatia, death of innocent people in the blast of Indonesian aircraft are a few of its examples.In this exhibition our intention is not to document the facts of war, but ruminate on the contradiction between the concept of war and peace. Is peace at all possible in the world dominated by power and greed? Yet how some human values still sustain? How despite continuous confrontation with violence in different form, both local and global, human beings still survive, the civilization progresses and some great minds appear within the civilisation, whose presence justifies that the flame of positive human values is never to extinguish. Here comes the role of peace. Had the urge for peace and love not dominated over the war, violence and hatred, the civilization would have extinguished long back. So there is a contradictory relation between war and peace. Peace also involves some kinds of war. The war against poverty or illiteracy is a continuous agenda of every civilization. War also involves peace. There are people in all ages who, who within the war treats the war victims with love.
In this exhibition our intention is to look deeper into the tapestry of war and peace that is spread over the human civilization. We have invited twenty artists, who are very much socio temporally committed and continuously experiment with various forms and techniques out of both modernist and post-modern view points. The exhibition will posit the present state of our existence and also that of our contemporary art, where local and global wisdom is very significantly assimilated with each other to flower into a rich visual mosaic. The art also has its own tapestry of war and peace, violence and love. But can the urge for peace and love dominate over their opposite condition? That is the question our artists have tried to put forward.
We have further created a site and a blog so people can interact and share there views in the said matter. Interact with – The curator, the artists, the gallery and with people across the globe.Write on our blog – share your thoughts and/or tell us what you think about Why should we remember? Why should we stop and think about the historical aspects that happened so long ago? Millions of people across the world still feel a connection with the Great War for Civilisation. They knew the people whose lives were changed by it. They remain moved by the enduring works of art that were created as a response to it. They live with its unresolved political legacies. The First World War created a common sense of history that, decades later, still links people
from many disparate nations!!
For any further details or pictures of the works in the exhibit kindly call us at + 91 33 22873377 /
88 Contact names : Moumita Chandra , Manish Gupta.
41 Shakespeare Sarani
Kolkata WB - 17 India