K. C. Aryan
K. C. Aryan (1919-2002) was a painter, sculptor, art historian and a pioneer-collector of folk and tribal art objects; and founder of the Museum of Folk and Tribal Art, better known as K.C. Aryan's Home of Folk Art, founded in 1984 in Gurgaon.
Quotes about K. C. Aryan and about the Museum of Folk and Tribal ArtEdit
- Aryan points out how his father, the late painter KC Aryan, was the first to preserve and promote these unknown paintings from Jodhpur. He says, “Nobody knew of their existence. These large-size paintings were done by pujaris from Jodhpur, and not by painters in a conventional manner. They are so vibrant and have now become extinct.
- K.C. Aryan was a productive painter himself. Twice his paintings drew attention from the authorities. A few years before independence, during a communal riot in the North-West Frontier Province, Muslims paraded a group of Hindu women naked. He depicted the scene. The British authorities feared it would stoke resentment among the Hindus, so he had to abscond from their searchlight for a while. Come independence, his community of Lahore Hindus was partly massacred and partly had to flee for their lives. In Delhi, near Kashmiri gate, they had to live as refugees. Aryan’s painting of the refugee camp was titled: “Freedom comes for us.” Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was not amused.
- Unfortunately the contrast between the value of these collections and the shabby treatment they receive from the upper class and the authorities deserve a closer investigation and contemplation... This collection is large, tasteful, and greatly appreciated by art connoisseurs the world over. At the moment, it happens to be housed just next to the capital and the international airport. Any Minister of Culture in his right mind would first of all visit it and then promote this collection to show the world that particular facet of the many-faced Indian creativity. But this is not happening.
- The ordinary house was the habitat of the great painter himself, as he found no state or private patronage to give his collection the space and the care it deserves. Collecting he did out of personal passion for art and out of a sense of duty. He sensed how art that was an everyday feature of Indian folk life a century ago is now getting rare and in need of preservation for posterity. Art lovers and art owners were united in despising tribal and folk art, even throwing it away to replace it with more classical pieces.
- K.C. Aryan (born 11 August 1919, died 2002), a Partition refugee from West Panjab, was an accomplished painter. He founded the Museum for Tribal and Folk Art in Gurgaon, still functioning today. He saved plenty of old paintings, sculptures and other arts & crafts objects for posterity by collecting them in his museum or donating them to more established institutions. In 1970, he presented to the publishing unit of Punjabi University Patiala a manuscript with illustrations for a book, 100 Years Survey of Panjab Painting (1841-1941). It was eventually published by the PUP in 1975, but only in mutilated form. The Senate Board of the University objected to the inclusion of one particular painting, and threatened that if it were published, the grant for the whole publishing unit would be stopped. The contentious painting, executed by a Pahari painter in the mid-19th century (whose name, as often in folk art, remains unknown), shows a topi-wearing Guru Nanak praying to Lord Vishnu. The Board took the Sikh-separatist line that that Sikhism has nothing to do with Hinduism, and that the Gurus are above the “Brahminical” gods. It is the same line that keeps the Sikh establishment from calling their central shrine, the Hari Mandir (“Vishnu temple”), by its proper name, hiding it behind the superficial designation “Golden Temple” or the Moghul term “Darbar Sahib”. It is also why in 1922 they threw out from the Hari Mandir the murti-s that had been worshipped there ever since Arjan Dev inaugurated it in 1604. Sikh identity as a separate religion, rather than as one of the many panth-s in the Hindu commonwealth, is based on a denial of history, and this requires a constant censoring of unwilling historical data: names changed, scriptures doctored, murti-s thrown away, the publication of a painting suppressed.
- Elst, K. (2010). Guru Nanak was a Hindu
From the Personal Collection of KC Aryan. Unknown Masterpieces of Indian Folk & Tribal ArtEdit
- From the Personal Collection of KC Aryan. Unknown Masterpieces of Indian Folk & Tribal Art (KC Aryan’s Home of Folk Art, Gurgaon 2016, 301 pp., 635 illustrations).
- KC Aryan is singularly equipped in writing on them [folk bronzes], having lived, seen and collected many of the images on the spot and being a practising artist.
- Stella Kramrisch p.295
- “Greater preference is accorded to sculptures and paintings created by artists attached to the royal courts over the centuries. Artefacts from rural and tribal India were outrightly dismissed as everyday objects, completely unfit for display in a museum. No one, with the sole exception of K.C. Aryan, realised that the illiterate and unknown craftsmen living and working in the countryside had nurtured our artistic and cultural heritage since hoary antiquity, and preserved it from getting lost for good.”
- Dr. Subhasini Aryan, chairman of the Museum of Folk and Tribal Art
- “This long neglect and wanton destruction of our folk and tribal heritage has been compounded by the unsavoury process of pseudo-intellectual distinction between ‘arts’ and ‘crafts’, or ‘fine arts’ and ‘decorative arts’. This led to a profound loss of repositories of rich ethnographic material bearing centuries-old expression and symbolism.”
- BN Aryan, (p.293). Afterword
- [It is] “a most deserving tribute to the unnumbered anonymous artists and artisans of our soil through the centuries. In it are manifest the creative genius and artistic expression of countless unknown potters, weavers, embroiderers, painters, sculptors and other craftspersons of this country ‘whose names and identities have been lost in the mists of time’ and whose artistry is comparable to, if not excelling, the best of its kind found anywhere in the history of human civilization.”
- BN Aryan (p.297)