On display in London, natural history paintings by an obscure 19th-century Bengali artist by Malini Roy from Scroll.in

The British Library has loaned 20 paintings and manuscripts to the Wallace Collection in London for the “Forgotten Masters” exhibition, running through April 2020. Included are a selection of four works by the relatively unknown artist Haludar, whose natural history drawings are on display for the very first time.

When the exhibition curator William Darymple started scoping paintings to be included in the exhibition, I brought to his attention the natural history drawings in the collection commissioned by the Scottish surgeon Dr Francis Buchanan-Hamilton – 1762–1829, hereafter referred to as Buchanan – at the turn of the 19th century. When I showed him the delicate paintings of a moloch gibbon, a sloth bear, a long-tailed macaque and the gerbils painted by the artist Haludar, Dalrymple was intrigued and we started considering the conservation aspects in displaying these works for the first time.

Sloth bear drawn for Francis Buchanan by Haludar, circa 1799-1806. Credit: British Library (CC Public Domain)

In researching the Buchanan collection at the British Library, which consists of several hundred natural history alongside countless volumes of his notes, I met with Dr Ralf Britz an ichthyologist, or fish scientist, at the Natural History Museum, who was working on Buchanan’s volume on Fishes of the Ganges held in the British Library. When I mentioned my plans to work on the drawings of mammals in the Library’s collection and researching the artist Haludar, he immediately sent me a scientific article by the French zoologist Henri de Blainville. In 1816, de Blainville wrote in the science bulletin, par la Société philomathique de Paris, that a new species of Cervus niger could be identified “after a very beautiful coloured drawing that was completed on site by Haludar, an Indian painter”. After reading this article, I started to look at other early 19th century periodicals to see if any other zoologists were looking at de Blainville’s work or by chance also mentioned Haludar.

Indian sambar deer, Cervus Niger, drawn for Francis Buchanan by Haludar, circa 1799-1806, Barrackpore. Credit: British Library (CC Public Domain)

I discovered that in 1819, the German naturalist Lorenz Oken’s periodical Isis also made reference to Cervus niger, stating it was “painted on the spot by the master painter Haludar”. Both references to Cervus niger, which is an Indian Sambar deer, provided only brief descriptions of the species, and omitted to give details regarding the source of the scientific information as well as the location of the artwork by Haludar. However, in cross-referencing C niger with Haludar, we are directed to a single drawing in the British Library’s collection that was commissioned by Francis Buchanan inscribed with the artist’s name, that had been deposited at the Company’s library on Leadenhall Street, London in 1808. This painting of Cervus niger is one of 28 natural history drawings now held in the British Library that are inscribed Haludar Pinxt and that were prepared between 1795 and 1818, when Buchanan was working as a surgeon for the East India Company and actively documenting botanical and zoological specimens during his travels across the subcontinent.

This article first appeared on British Library’s Untold Lives blog.

More: https://scroll.in/article/952818/on-display-in-london-natural-history-paintings-by-an-obscure-19th-century-bengali-artist

Photo Gallery: Chinese artist Jacky Tsai’s “The Harmonious Society” in London courtesy Art Radar

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The Fine Art Society in London presents the second solo show of Chinese artist Jacky Tsai following the success of his first in 2015.

Jacky Tsai, the creator of Alexander McQueen’s floral skull, presents an ironic contemporary take on the political and social ideologies that shape China’s identity.

“The Harmonious Society”, running at The Fine Art Society in London until 8 November 2016, features a new body of work by London-based Chinese artist Jacky Tsai, best known as the creator of the iconic floral skull image made for late British fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

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Born in Shanghai in 1984, Jacky Tsai graduated with an MFA from Central St Martin’s in London, and has been exhibiting worldwide, with key shows in London, New York City, Singapore and Hong Kong. His dynamic art practice combines traditional Chinese painting techniques with references to western Pop Art styles. His subjects are also a playful juxtaposition of western and eastern iconographies, such as superheros like Superman, Batman and Robin and Wonder Woman, and Chinese mythological figures like the Yellow Emperor, the Monkey King and Chang E as well as court ladies, set in ancient Chinese palaces and gardens.

More: http://artradarjournal.com/2016/10/28/photo-gallery-chinese-artist-jacky-tsais-the-harmonious-society-in-london/?from=feedblitz_403966_5357249

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UK Relents After Blocking Syrian Artist’s Visit by Benjamin Sutton on January 21, 201

After initially preventing him from traveling to the UK, the British government has granted Syrian-born, Sharjah-based artist Thaier Helal‘s second visa application, allowing him to attend the opening of his first solo show in London.

“We had reapplied for Thaier’s UK visa and now it’s been approved,” Minna J. Apostolovic, head of public relations at Ayyam Gallery, told Hyperallergic. “We’re trying to get him on the next available flight to London.”

Thaier Helal (photo via Facebook, used with the artist's permission)

Helal is attempting to travel to the UK in time for the January 22 opening of his exhibition Landmarks at Ayyam Gallery’s space on New Bond Street, even though the Home Office — the ministry that oversees security and immigration — turned down his first visa application. The artist had provided all the requisite documents including bank statements, a letter from the University Of Sharjah (where he lectures), and recommendations, but immigration officials reviewing his first application said they were “not satisfied he [was] genuinely seeking entry to the United Kingdom as a business visitor. In addition [they were] not satisfied that [he] intend to leave the United Kingdom at the end of [his] visit,” according to theIndependent.

“I just don’t understand why I have been refused entry to the UK, I am just an artist who wants to be at the opening of my first solo exhibition in Britain. It means so much to me — it is really a career achievement,” Helal told the Independent. “I truly believe that the only reason preventing me from being allowed into the UK is my Syrian passport, it was my belief that Britain was an open society which embraced creative freedom and the promotion of cultural exchange.”

Ayyam Gallery, which was founded in Damascus and also has exhibition spaces in Dubai, Beirut, and Jeddah, is unfortunately accustomed to having to deal with immigration officials’ inscrutable decisions. Last year Israeli authorities prevented one of the gallery’s artists, Khaled Jarrar, from traveling to New York City for openings of exhibitions in which he was featured at the New Museum and the Whitebox Art Center.

Artists with non-EU passports attempting to travel to the UK and North America have long faced similar difficulties. In 2013, the Algerian artist Sofiane Belaskri was denied a four-day visa to visit the UK for the opening of an exhibition and ensuing workshops at the Free World Centre in London. Last year, the Canadian government denied the Afghan artist Hanifa Alizada a visa to attend a photography symposium in Ottawa.

 Thaier Helal, "Assi River" (2013), mixed media on canvas (courtesy the artist and Ayyam Gallery)