An exhibition of works by legendary artists from West Bengal

Select works by several legendary artists from West Bengal, synonymous with the defining phase of Indian art, is on view at the Mumbai based, Cymroza Art Gallery.

Abanindranath Tagore, Gobhardhan Ash, Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij, Somnath Hore, Jamini Roy and Sailoz Mukherjea are among the prominent artists from the Bengal school of art whose works are on display as part of the show. Paintings from the Kalighat School are also being showcased at the Cymroza show that continues till second week of September 2007.

These artists, individually and collectively, made a major contribution to Indian art. Abanindranath Tagore, whose work was a mixture of traditionalism and innovation, was among the most respected artists of his times. His influence on modern Indian art was profound. When art was replete with romanticism, he established his anti idealistic stance. He strongly favored Indian art that would spring from spirit of deep-seated nationalism.

Among the artists on view at the exhibit, Gobhardhan Ash's verbal imagery alluded to what was real and relevant in India yet transcended to communicate a deeper, universal message about the human spirit. He was known for his visionary and inspiring work. The artist adopted a new approach to paint farmers toiling in the fields, workers engaged in intense labor to earn their hiving, thereby setting a new trend of socio-realistic art in India. He never subscribed to a stringent artistic form or technique.

If the complexity and spontaneity of his ideas and the richness of style was a hallmark of Gobhardhan Ash's works, Nandalal Bose's oeuvre revolved around historical references and allegories. Folk art was juxtaposed with classical content in such a way that it exuded spiritualism and evolved into an artistic language. He also imbibed the wash technique that transformed the simple objects of everyday life into tools of powerful artistic expression.

On other hand, Ramkinkar Baij was primarily known for his expressionistic sculpture. His sand and pebble sculptures were noteworthy for a typical, lyrical, metrical sensuality, which has an amazing oneness with nature. A sense of rhythm that marked his sculptures was also manifest brilliantly in his watercolor works. 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.

If Ramkinkar Baij's work was characterized by a tremendous energy and its earthy and dynamic nature, the anguished human form reflected in late Somnath Hore's figuration. An artist with acute social consciousness, he often voiced his concern over inhumanity and intolerance, all of which echoed in his work. Keen on experimentation, the artist tried his hands at etching, intaglio and lithographs apart from sculpting. He also experimented with printmaking. Somnath Hore looked at art as a tool to express his angst against a skewed socio-political system.

Works by Sailoz Mukherjea are also on view. The artist owed his basic inspiration to Matisse's odalisques. He accepted whatever new forms of self-expression that suited his oriental temperament and tradition. Hi simplification of form and vibrancy of color was an attribute that he had derived from the Ecole de Paris, but his main influences remained the folk art of India and the Basohli miniatures.

On other hand, Jamini Roy modified the qualities of native folk painting in his own inimitable style. The artist fused the minimal brush strokes of the Kalighat style with elements of tribal art from West Bengal. He painted simple yet touchy topics in simple two-dimensional forms, with flat color application and an emphasis on the lines.

Each of the artists on view at the show, providing a kaleidoscopic view of the Bengal school of art, marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Indian art. The show is a tribute to their immense contribution to it.

view all articles