Monday, November 26, 2012

A truly great modern master of his era

The Kalighat idiom was a source of great influence to a doyen of the modern Indian art phenomenon, Jamini Roy. We take a quick look at the unique and inimitable features of his oeuvre:
  • The highly popular folk style works – the bewildering bazaar paintings - sold in the vicinity of the Kalighat temple, manifested in his captivating calligraphic brush lines to execute sophisticated forms.
  • The austerity of lines only highlighted his immense control over brush. The lyrically and at times even sensuously done lines with lampblack over white or pale gray background exuded both vigor and the poetic quality of his compositions like the Baul and Woman Seated, symbolizing his style.
  • What set him apart was his conscious disownment of formal art school-trained modernity to adopt the Bengali folk works’ nostalgic lyricism ushered in a distinct new phase in the annals of Indian Modern Art. He rejected the then modern style of painting, foraying into the realm of folk paintings. His dramatic yet deft depictions of aboriginal Santhal drummers and vivacious women figures gained immense popularity in the 1940s.
  • The fascinating figures were marked by bold, thick and precise lines, catching the viewer’s attention with their trademark almond-shaped eyes, as if staring back at one. Art writer Sona Datta aptly dubbed this style of painting as urban patua, superimposing his unique forms on the folk style popular in Bengal’s village paintings.
  • Jamini Roy simplified the basic forms, adding a distinct touch to the usage the medium, material and themes of local painters even as retaining their innocence, simplicity, and bold, flat colors – mostly yellow ochre, vermillion, grey, cadmium, green, red, blue and white.
  • The animals, Radha, mother and child were all painted in simple two-dimensional forms, denoting flat color application and a clear emphasis on the lines. The figure of the Christ was another recurring subject in his painting.

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