Progressive Artists' Movement
The Progressive Artists’ Group formed within the fraught political and cultural climate that followed India’s independence from British rule in 1947. As the nation grappled with its new borders and newly established democracy, this modern group of artists sought to distance themselves from the nationalist Bengal School of Art by embracing a more international perspective. Approaching their art from considerably different backgrounds and styles, they shared a concern for formal qualities, similar to those found in European Modernism, and advocated for free expression of content and technique. Francis Newton Souza, credited with founding the group, looked to Expressionism and Art Brut for his explorations of sexuality and the human form, while Maqbool Fida Husain, another of the six founders, evoked the aesthetics of Cubism in his paintings of flattened, disjointed scenes of Indian history and mythology. Syed Haider Raza turned to geometric abstraction for his colorful paintings that responded to nature and often converged at a “Bindu,” or point, symbolizing the seed of life.