You can find a dash of rebellion in any form of art providing you have an eye for nuances. Arbert Carnus has expressed this contention in his famous book – The Rebel. If rebellion carries with it characteristics such as aesthetic, metaphysical, social and political, artists have always tended to transform the reality in their process of creation; negation of reality in itself being a sort of rebellion in its core. Greek philosophy of arts has upheld two concepts as regards to the essence of art. The first one is mimesis that stands to depict the visible world’s reality and then comes fantasia where reality is distorted to the form of fantasy, registering a kind of rebellion in the process.
The Indian context saw social as well as political rebellion figuring more prominently in the modernist period starting the forties decade of last century. When the neo-Indian school’s artists displayed more impressions regarding classical as well as religious traditions before that period, Gaganendranath Tagore had been a striking exception. He was quite much concerned of socio-temporal reality and his caricature series’ have been reasonable examples of modern India’s protest art. Many consider Gaganendranath as the pioneer of this genre. Subtle traces of social critique followed through Abanindranath Tagore’s works; Arabian Night series in particular. However, it was his Khuddur Jathra manuscript in its collage form of illustrations, the more expressive one as regards to both national and international societal protest.
Abanindranath is regarded as the first modernist painter of India although his paintings’ rebellion seemed assuming more psychological and metaphysical dimensions rather than socio-temporal. However, political or social protest was also not absent in his creations. Meanwhile paintings of more artists who followed during the decade of 1940s seemed to be increasingly concerning social realty of the times weighed against social and political protest in their works’ form and content.
More refined as well as elaborated started becoming this trend in the works of the artists of fifties and sixties of the twentieth century. A dilemma oscillating between the points of positive and negative realities was pretty obvious in their concept of social and political conditions of the times. These rebels of the arts world that had experienced first hand colonial exploitation and domination from their childhood, had also witnessed to a great extend the protests against it. When Mahathma Gandhi and many other leaders of the times had together staged the great nationalist protest movements of the times, a palate of life’s ideal values was set for them.
The man made famine of 1943 at the behest of the British colonialists along with the innumerable instances of human death involved, the violence caused by the Second World War along with the Western world’s human value disintegration, fragmentation of India and the communal violence that followed and more than anything the shattering of the great dream that was engendered during the nation’s independence have all contributed to the metaphysical and psychological discontent that gave their art a touch of rebellion.
The artists of free Indian that made serious contribution to this segment were Shyamal Dutta Roy, Nikhil Biswas, Prokash Karmakar, Rabin Mondal, Ganesh Pyne, Dhiraj Chaudhary, Bijan Chaudhary, Jagan Chaudhary, Sunil Das, Veena Bhargava and Bikash Bhattacharya among others in the Eastern region; Gieve Patel, Bhupen Khakar, Jeram Patel, Gulam Mohammad Sheikh among others from the Western region; Manu Parekh, Arpitha Singh and Anjolie Ela Menon among others from the Northern region and K lakshma Goud, A Ramachandran and C Douglas among others from the Southern region.