The Modern Art Debate in Kumar
Jyoti Bhatt, Pherozeshah Rustomji Mehta, and the readers of Kumar

Modernism/Murderism, translated by Vasvi Oza, brings together, for the first time in English, a forgotten debate on Modern Art that took place in the pages of the Gujarati-language periodical Kumar between 1959 and 1964. Published across various issues, the debate brings into conversation Pherozeshah Rustomji Mehta, a writer and art connoisseur from Karachi, and Jyoti Bhatt, a young artist who had just begun teaching at the Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU Baroda. While Mehta chose to defend what he believed were the timeless and traditional values of art, Bhatt proposed that Modern Art was no stranger to these values and in fact had much in common with them. Alongside the articles by Mehta and Bhatt, the publication also brings together responses to the debate from various readers who interjected in the 'Readers Write' column of the periodical, as well as notes from Kumar's editor, Bachubhai Ravat, who informally acted as a mediator. Offering a vantage point from which to view the entry of Modernism and its affiliated discourses into the art practices of the region, this volume proposes itself as a reader to these histories and revisits this crucial moment.

A renowned painter, printmaker, and photographer, Jyoti Bhatt (b. 1934) lives and works in Vadodara, Gujarat. He was among the first batch of students to graduate from the Faculty of Fine Arts, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (MSU) in 1956, where he studied painting and printmaking for six years. Bhatt began teaching at MSU in 1959 and continued to teach there until his retirement in 1992. He studied at the Accademia di Bella Arti in Naples (under a scholarship from the Italian Government) and at the Pratt Graphic Art Center in New York (under the Fulbright & John D. Rockerfeller IIIrd Fund Fellowship) between 1961 to 1966. Apart from his art practice, he has also written frequently in Gujarati about art, design, photography, and printmaking, for Kumar and other publications.

Pherozeshah Rustomji Mehta (1880-1971) was a writer and scholar from Karachi. Apart from his writing for periodicals like Kumar and Navchetan, he has published five books in Gujarati, including Chitrarasika (Kumar, 1962) which brought together his articles on visual and performing arts. He was also the editor of Karachi’s then-daily newspaper Parsi Sansar ane Lok Sevak for many years, and was amongst the earliest Gujarati scholars to introduce epigrams in his oration.

Modernism/Murderism: The Modern Art Debate in Kumar
Jyoti Bhatt, Pherozeshah Rustomji Mehta, and the readers of Kumar

Translated by Vasvi Oza

₹ 950 / € 25 / $ 27

ISBN: 978-81-953472-1-6

Editors: Nihaal Faizal and Sarasija Subramanian
Researchers: Sarasija Subramanian and Vasvi Oza
Research Assistants: Kadamboor Neeraj and Stuti Bhavsar
Translation Assistants: Dhaivat Shah and Kadamboor Neeraj
Publication Design: Roshan Shakeel

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