Bengal Masters: A Tribute
Works of eminent artists from the collection of Emami Art
August 20 – October 31, 2020

Modern Indian Art has an eclectic character that privileges a cross-cultural exchange and hybridity over cultural purity. A remarkable blending of the elements borrowed from the modern art of the West and India’s traditional antecedents, the works of the modern masters in the exhibition, from Nandalal Bose to Jogen Chowdhury, show the plural, eclectic nature of Indian Modernism, which has a unique history in Bengal, closely connected to the social, political and cultural life of the region. This online exhibition presents the works of ten eminent artists, from the collection of Emami Art. They are Nandalal Bose, Indra Dugar, K.G. Subramanyan, Jamini Roy, Abani Sen, Gopal Ghose, Paritosh Sen, Nikhil Biswas, Kartick Chandra Pyne and Jogen Chowdhury. It is a selection focused on the master artists from Bengal, each one of them has a distinctive approach, style and artistic vocabulary, which affirm their place in the global history of Modern and Contemporary Art. 

An Overview

Nandalal Bose (1882-1966) was the foremost student of Abanindranath and one of the most recognized artists of the Bengal school. Later in Santiniketan, he was greatly influenced by Rabindranath’s modernist vision of art and his lyrical romanticism of the Bengal School was replaced with a more concrete artistic style based on perceptual reality and a sense of place. Nandalal was an avid sketcher. His portrait of Hirachand Dugar, one of the early students of Kala Bhavana, shows his unique drawing style. Hirachand Dugar’s son Indra Dugar (1918-1989) was also a renowned artist, who, unlike his famous father, did not have any institutional training in art. His works, however, are refined and skilful, showing the influence of the Santiniketan artists, particularly that of Nandalal Bose. K. G. Subramanyan (1924-2016), a student and later a teacher of Kala Bhavana, was a powerful modern artist who, through his artworks and writings, re-established the relevance of the Santiniketan art education and art practices in the global context of Contemporary Art. Like his illustrious mentors, Nandalal and Benodebehari, he experimented with a wide range of mediums, from terracotta and murals to painted platters. The two Saras or painted platters in the exhibition show how remarkably he revitalizes the sensibility of the traditional medium. 

The two paintings by Jamini Roy (1887-1972) show his trademark style, derived from the tradition of Bengal folk paintings. Abani Sen (1905-1972), a student of the Government School of Art, Calcutta and founder of the Young Artists’ Union and later, the Art Rebel, is known for his paintings of the prehistoric animal forms that speak of organic vitality. He was a great admirer of the experimental approaches of the Western modern artists; his two paintings in this exhibition show his tryst with Cezanne. A widely travelled artist, Paritosh Sen (1918-2008) studied art in Madras and was the founder member of the Calcutta Group. His works show his careful, slightly erotic, observations of the everyday life and also his appreciation of the European art, particularly the post-cubist paintings of Pablo Picasso, whom he met in Paris. Gopal Ghose (1913-1980) studied art in Jaipur and Madras and was also one of the founder members of the Calcutta Group. Besides his paintings of the agony of the 1940s, he is also famous for reinterpreting the genre of landscape painting in a new way. Painted with fresh and vibrant colours, many of his landscapes are fauvist, evoking the distant memories of rural India. 

Nikhil Biswas (1930-1966), a student of the Government College of Art, Calcutta and the founder member of Calcutta Painters, Chitrangshu and the Society of Contemporary Artists, was an artist committed to bringing about a radical transformation in Contemporary Indian Art.  His powerful drawings of animals are Expressionist in character, displaying a fine balance between structural stability and subjective emotions. Kartick Chandra Pyne (1931-2017), a graduate of the Government College of Art, Calcutta, is one of the early surrealist painters of India. His famous nudes, painted with elegant ease and vibrant colours, are sites in which nature, society, fantasy, myth and human desires are interconnected. Jogen Chowdhury (1939 -) received his training in academic realism as a student of the Government Art College, Calcutta. Skilfully drawn, his early drawings of the refugee families at the Sealdah Railway Station speak of the tragic human histories of the partitioned Bengal, which has had a profound impact on the artist. 


Artists


Indra Dugar

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K. G. Subramanyan

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Nikhil Biswas

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Nikhil Biswas

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Kartick Chandra Pyne
Untitled

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Gopal Ghose

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