Samikshavad – The History
Samikshavad of 1974 was a landmark art movement, as it became the first aboriginal genre in the Modern Indian Art scene, in its true sense. It consciously kept away from any Western influences and established its own distinct identity, as the mark of a ‘free’ India. Samikshavad began as a testimonial of a revolution in Indian Art that meant to reach out to the people, breaking out from the hidden, niche, and mysterious aura attached to it. This art form was a reaction and rejection of the Modern Art forms of the West. ‘Samiksha’ is a Sanskrit word, meaning a critical analysis of a subject, which can extend to broader ones, like lifestyle and socio-political structures. In line with its name, Samikshavad dealt with political sarcasm, political & social corruption, cultural changes, and economical conditions.
Ace painter Prof. Ram Chandra Shukla spearheaded this movement to promote Indianization of domestic art, as opposed to the inclination of his contemporaries towards the Western Modern Art. Prof. Shukla heads the department of Painting at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh. In addition, promotional lectures held at and sponsored by various University-level Art Departments at various places, further bolstered the movement. Samikshavad effectively gave voice to its proponents as artists and responsible citizens. Its maiden exhibition was held in the year 1979 at All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS), Delhi. It displayed a vivid collection of twenty-six paintings, in oil medium over canvas. This exhibition was a huge hit and received great critical acclaim. Critics, art-lovers, media, and the viewers, alike, perceived Samikshavad as an art with social purpose.
Simplistic forms and a degree of Abstraction & Symbolism, captured in a burlesque manner, are distinct features of Smikshavad. The style did not lay undue emphasis on color schemes, lines, brushwork, forms, and the use of space. The focus here was to ‘communicate’ the message in as understandable form, as possible.
The Artists and Artworks
Where there are examples of extremely bright color Samikshavadi compositions like ‘Value of Rupees’ by R. S. Dheer, monochrome works such as G.Madhurkar Chaturvedi’s ‘Democracy of Crowd,’ also mark the art style. Another remarkable work is ‘Politicians of Today’ (1978) painted by Ram Chandra Shukla (born 1925). It depicts a politician as a ‘monster,’ akin to the devils in Indian mythologies. The devil stands over a peasant (representative of the common person), crushing the poor man with his power and pelf.
Among the other leading names associated with the genre are Hridya Narayan Mishra, Santosh Kumar Singh, Virendra Prasad Singh, Ved Prakash Mishra, Ram Shabd Singh, Bala Dutt Pandey, and Ravindra Nath Mishra.
With its powerful imagery and a raw force of expression, Samikshavad remains a popular form of satirical art.