A Letter to the Editor
The Editor, The ‘TRIVENI’
Calcutta, 19th November 1944.
I am grateful to Mr. K. B. Iyer for paying me a left-handed compliment, by referring to my very incomplete work on South Indian Bronzes published in 1915, and since summarized in a profusely illustrated pamphlet, Southern Iudian Bronzes (1932).
Nobody is more conscious of my sins of omissions and commissions, and of the many imperfections in the works than myself. And I have been planning for a long time to atone for my sins by publishing an exhaustive survey of Southern Indian Bronzes, accompanied by adequate Photogravure reproductions of the Masterpieces, such as given in my Masterpieces of Rajput Painting and Rupam. No amount of literary text, iconographic or rhapsodic, can convey the beauty of Indian Art–without adequate process of reproduction to convey the subtlety and mystery of Indian masterpieces. And Mr. Iyer’s two pages of dithyrambics are not borne out by the miserable half tone blocks with which he vainly attempts to convey the beauty of the original–which is far better rendered in the plate in my very incomplete work, which still fills me with shame and remorse for my inability to do justice to that great school of Indian Sculpture.
To publish an adequate work on the subject with worthy and adequate illustrations, I have vainly canvassed the support of many illustrious and wealthy friends of the South–who rarely show any appreciation or interest in the great contribution which ancient Tamil Masters have contributed to the World of Art–and which is yet very little known in India or abroad.
Art, in any form or kind, is still an avoided and despised subject in our Schools, Colleges and Universities, and the cultured public as well as Ministers and M. L. A’s, and our leaders of men love to ignore the subject, which occupy the serious attention of all classes of society in all civilized countries.
Under the circumstances, there is very little chance of the great school of Southern Indian Bronzes receiving its worthy tribute in the shape of an exhaustive monograph unless distinguished M. L. A’s, like you, Sir, undertake an agitation to enlist the support of the well-to-do people to finance the project.
War has brought into existence numerous War Profiteers who have made enough money to spare some to vindicate the cause of National Art–which would be far better spent than in investing in fleets of motor cars, diamond ear-rings, and other items of ostentatious luxury.
I remain, Sir, Yours truly,
O. C. Gangoly.
Mr. K. B. Iyer, to whom a copy of the above letter was sent, writes:
The Editor, The ‘TRIVENI’
I fail to see how my reference to Mr. Gangoly’s South Indian Bronzes as incomplete in view of several fresh finds could be regarded, on any showings as a “left-handed compliment.” Mr. Gangoly has in a penitential mood and with generous rhetoric catalogued in his letter the many imperfections of his work. That is all very much worse than I ever suggested or dreamt of.
If he believes in what he says, then why all this bother? Since his cheap flings at me hang by that extremely slender thread–the fancied left-handed compliment–I do not propose to be disturbed into a reply on that Score.
K. B. Iyer.
(We are publishing above a communication from Mr. O. C. Gangoly, the distinguished art–critic–and a letter from K. B. Iyer. We and our publishers are more to blame than our valued contributor, Mr. K. B. Iyer, for the ‘wretched’ reproduction of ‘Gouri’. We admit that the art-reproduction is not as good as it might be; but we preferred to give some illustration to reinforce the statements of Mr. K. B. Iyer in his admirable critique–which we would not rather characterise as ‘dithyrambics.’ We heartily endorse the appeal of Mr. O. C. Gangoly that those who can spare the money should help art-critics like him to popularise Indian art.–K.S.G.)