Iain Gale on exhibitions

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The Independent Online
Old habits die hard. In post-empire Britain we still tend to characterise Indian painting solely in terms of those exquisite miniatures on view in the V&A and the British Museum. Elegant and passionate images of religion and folklore, history and warfare, of the type famously collected by Howard Hodgkin. That there is much more, however, than these to the artistic creativity of a continent is immediately evident on entering a recently opened gallery in London's Mayfair.

The curiously named ARKS Gallery declares its aim to be "to present the best of contemporary Indian art... creating a permanent space for the exhibition of works by India's leading artists and 'young Turks'."

The current focus of interest is Paresh Maity, a popular, 31-year-old Indian watercolour artist whose roots reach back to the well-known Bengali school of watercolour landscape painters. For some years, as a young man, he produced large, four-by-six foot watercolours - a difficult achievement in the dehydrating heat of central India. Recently, however, he has moved into a more abstract style which reflects one of the most prevalent, but little known (in Britain) aspects of Indian art.

The brainchild of two inspired long-term collectors of Indian art, Anwar and Kiki Siddiqi, this is a quite unique venture in London art galleries and deserves the support not only of the Asian community in this country, but of anyone who takes an interest in fine art.

ARKS Gallery, 16 North Audley Street, London, W1 (0171-409 2971)

Left: Detail from Paresh Maity's 'Encounters II'