Group 1890 By Luis , Sandip K.
Group 1890 was a short-lived, but highly influential collective of Indian artists formed in 1962. It was composed of twelve members—Jeram Patel as secretary, Raghav Kaneria, M. Reddeppa Naidu, Ambadas, Rajesh Mehra, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Himmat Shah, S.G. Nikam, Eric Hubert Bowen, Jyoti Bhatt, Balkrishna Patel, and J. Swaminathan (the spokesperson and ideologue of the collective). The name of the group was taken from the house number of the private residence in which members had their first meeting. The collective had their first and last show in 1963 in New Delhi, inaugurated by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The catalogue essay, “Surrounded by Infinity,” was written by Octovio Paz, who was then the Mexican ambassador to India. The aesthetic impact made by Group 1890 in their “primitivist” use of materials and surfaces was soon co-opted by the indigenist art of the Madras/Cholamandal school and the so-called “Neo-tantric” painters. Since the artworks of Group 1890 have, for the most part, not been preserved or documented, it is on the level of the Group’s ideology that they have been recognized as historically significant; paradoxically, in the words of Octovio Paz, their ideology consists of “the deliberate absence of any ideological meaning.”