The History Blog- Jawahar Kala Kendra
-The subtext in time
Have you ever wondered why the art and architecture of a place relate to that place's socio-political situation? Why do you not see a mullet in 2021? Well, of course, there are some exceptions. You know who you are! Like evolution, there is specific unconscious intelligence which applies to art and architecture. I believe the randomness in nature is driven by a highly complicated set of algorithms. Similarly, there is an underlying subtext in every piece of art and architecture relating to its time. Architect Charles Correa's Jawahar Kala Kendra (1986) and Anish Kapoor's Untitled painting at "tate" respond to the optimistic and nationalist sentiment of integrating the Indian culture and heritage in the Post-Independent era of India.
Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK) is a multi arts center, located in Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan, India. Designed by Architect Charles Correa, JKK is an analogue of the old city plan of Jaipur designed by Maharaja Jai Singh and references the concept of Navgraha (Nine planets).1
Anish Kapoor's Untitled painting at Tate, UK is an abstract painting. The medium used to create the art work are acrylic paint, gouache, graphite and oil paint on paper. The dimensions of the paintings are 545mm X 585mm.2
-India in its teens
Post independent India in 1980s was in its teenage years, going through a lot of changes and finding its identity. India went through infrastructural development and focused on architecture and planning of various public and government buildings. The first Prime minister of India, Dr. Jawaharlal Nehru had a vision for India and wanted to steer away from the colonial architecture that was dominant in the pre independent era and embrace the individualistic qualities of the nation.3
The cultural policy of India in 1980s was a desire to incorporate India’s traditional and vernacular planning and architectural design that recognizes the cultural heritage of the place. The government promoted public buildings and proj
that represented India in its new changing era. 4 Amongst many other projects, Jawahar Kala Kendra was commissioned to Architect Charles Correa.
Indian Modern Art and Architecture
- Back to the roots
Architects, just like India itself were trying to find the voice of Indian architecture which was derived from its heritage and culture. Some architects started a contextual movement and reflected the postcolonial India, which focused on referencing traditional and vernacular architecture—giving rise to Modern Indian Architecture. Charles Correa along with B.V. Doshi and Achyut Kenvante were at the forefront of this movement. 5
This modernist movement was reflected in art as well. In
dian artists sought to maintain a common language of inculcating the “Indianness” 6 representative of an independent nation. The aesthetics of showcasing the modernity but linking it to the culture was a conscious style in 1980s Indian art. Anish Kapoor was one of the Indian modernist artists who created paintings and sculptures that represented an Indian aesthetic in a modern style.7
-In pursuit of hues
Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK) uses a red sandstone cladding on its exterior walls and plays a prominent role in the aesthetic. 8 The building is located in Jaipur and red sandstone is one of the most commonly used stones in older palaces like the Hawa Mahal and is relevant to Rajput Architecture. The color of the stone is also considered auspicious in the Hindu traditions.
Kapoor’s painting uses hues that are evidently Indian. The playful use of colors like yellow which also considered holy in Indian traditions. The national sentiment to derive from the past is visible in both the architecture and art.
Vastu Shastra (Science of architecture)
-Traditional Indian planning
The representation of a Mandala (a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism) in the planning of the building reflects the movement that many other contemporary architects interpreted at the time.9 An arrangement of 9 squares in a rectangular array forming a larger square was the basic shape of the mandala which is directly represented by Correa in JKK and adopted by Kapoor as well in his painting.
Correa's JKK and Kapoor's Untitled painting are both results of the collective conscious to incorporate the Indian culture and heritage of the nation. The dichotomy of the traditional and vernacular style paired with simplicity and rationality in modernism is very interesting. It also relates to the unconscious intelligence in nature; the dichotomy is seen in nature in all aspects. The duality in the movement is natural and yet ironic.