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Bengali Artists – Painter

Abanindranath Tagore
Born in the family of artists and painters, it was expected that Abanindranath Tagore would continue this legacy. And eventually he did, for the nation got its “Father of India’s Modern Art” in the form of Abanindranath Tagore. Nephew of Rabindranath Tagore. Abanindranath is celebrated for his attempts of modernizing the Moghul and Rajput styles of art to come up with an Indian touch replacing the Western models. The orientation in the artistic outlook of Abanindranath created a new awakening in India and brought about a revival of the Indian Art which for centuries lay decadent and hidden from the public view. Just as in the period of Renaissance the savants of Europe, after ages of gloom and desolation, discovered.

His famous series of pictures descriptive of the familiar scenes in the life of Sri Krishna, the divine cowherd, which are popularly known as the “Krishna Lila.
Special mention may be made of his post-card paintings and sketches which he is in the habit of sending to his pupils as a sort of encouragement to them in their pursuit of art. A small thing in itself, this however reveals an important trait in his character. One of Tagore’s most characteristic techniques was the dreamlike Japanese wash, which he began to use in about 1903. He founded the Indian Society of Oriental Art and was its most important artist. He was also the founder of the Bengal School of Art, which is seen as being instrumental in the advent of Indian painting as it is known today.

Nandalal Bose
Born in Bihar on December 1882, Nandlal Bose rose to become one of modern India’s most important artists. A product of GCAC, Bose was mentored by Havell and Abanindranath. His integrity and intent idealism were reflected as well as widened with his nationalistic consciousness, his commitment for classical and folk art, along with its underlying spirituality and symbolism, and a responsibility towards shaping the self-consciousness, choices and moral virtues of the people. The early philosophical inspirations came from Havell, Coomaraswamy and Sister Nivedita, while his interactions with the Japanese painters in Calcutta influenced him to realize the significance of the artistic heritage. Bose’s original style was recognized by famous artists and art critics like Gaganendranath Tagore, Anand Coomaraswamy and 0. C.Ganguli. He was also greatly encouraged by Sister Nivedita who became a great friend of the artist.

When Rabindranath founded the Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan Rabindranath invited Nandlal Bose to have a free hand with the institution. His mellow, restrained washes allied with the rhythmic, yet strong line dictating his compositions.

Bose experimented with a variety of Indian, Japanese, and Chinese techniques. His work consisted of scenes of nature and tribal and village life, as well as devotional subjects. In the 1930s he became closely linked with Mahatma Gandhi, who saw in Nandalal’s work a respect for the common man and the richness of India’s traditions that reflected Gandhi’s own ideals. Nandalal created the settings and artwork for some of Gandhi’s most important political events, and created iconic images of the man himself. Such was Bose’s stature that following independence in 1947, Nandalal was commissioned to illustrate the new Indian constitution. His some famous painting – Annapurna -1943, Sati-1943, floating a canoe

Jamini Roy [1887 -1972]
Developed a personal painting style inspired largely by traditional Indian folk and village arts, particularly those of Bengal. Through his paintings he gave expression to the scenes of everyday life of the people of rural Bengal. For his paintings, Jamini Roy selected themes from joys and sorrows of everyday life of rural Bengal, religious theme like-Ramayana, Sri Chaitanya, Radha-Krishna and Jesus Christ.

His trysts with painting started young as he became one of the disciples of the renowned painter Abanindranath Tagore. Roy developed his own amazing style that was akin to indigenous art found in Kalighat street paintings (Patta). All his paintings boasted of having rhythmic outlining, neat pattern, bright earthy shades and daring simplicity of themes. Roy was not only responsible for making art accessible to all but also for highlighting the true identity of Indian art, free from any westernized concepts and traditions.

Since art then was an expensive mode of expression, his use of inexpensive material and stuff turned out to be revolutionary in more ways than one. His style not only made art accessible to all but also emphasized on highlighting the true identity of Indian art, free from any westernized concepts and traditions.

In 1946 his work of art was exhibited in the London and later in 1953 in New York City of America. Today, his paintings are exhibited extensively in the international exhibitions and can be found in various private and public collections across the globe such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The Archaeological Survey of India, Ministry of Culture, Government of India in 1976 declared his work amongst the ‘Nine Masters’ whose work was considered ‘art treasure’.

Ramkinkar Baij
Ramkinkar Baij was the earliest Indian artist to experiment with abstract sculptural forms. His oil on canvas paintings have a singular experimenting quality going beyond its time, unregimented by dogmas and with only one commitment – to be unstintingly creative. Ram Kinker Baij was a reclusive modernist artist who always remained on the fringes of the art market. In his works the peripherals of society feature not as cast offs but dignified heroes.

Born in Bankura in West Bengal in 1910, Ramkinkar Baij studied at the Kala Bhavan, Vishwa Bharati University, Santiniketan in 1925. Trained by two European sculptors, one of whom was a disciple of Bourdelle, who were on a visit to Santiniketan on an invitation by Tagore, his style was still uniquely his own. Groomed by his mentors, Nandalal Bose and Tagore, the clay modeler turned artist. Working at a time when traditional art was transitioning to modern art, Baij’s work proved to be crucial to Indian art history. Nature and Baij’s own folk background turned out to be the crucial influences in the formation of his own style. Later, he headed the Department of Sculpture at the Kala Bhavan.

He believed that it is only momentum that creates tension in a work of art. His work is characterized by a tremendous energy; his art is joyous, vital and reaching out to light. It is earthy and dynamic while showing a surging movement or growth. His path-breaking work in sculpture has been both acknowledged and respected, first in Santiniketan, then across the country, and internationally as well. His sand and pebble sculptures are noted for a typical, lyrical, metrical sensuality, which has an amazing oneness with nature. Indian sculpture, hitherto limited to academic naturalism, was transformed by this artist.

He integrated elements of Santhal tribal art and life into his own work and enhanced them by an understanding of Western expressionism that was gleaned from books at the library of the Kala Bhavan. Although primarily known for his expressionistic sculpture, he was a gifted painter. This sense of rhythm that his sculpture is noted for is manifest brilliantly in his watercolors. The fluidity of this medium lent itself to his style. His works in the Kalighat tradition interconnected with Cubism to achieve a peculiarly personal idiom. Both his sculpture and his paintings are unprompted and bold.

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