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Living art | Tracing the evolution of Jamini Roy as a painter, from Western styles to indigenous forms-Art-and-culture News, Firstpost

By on December 9, 2021 0

Abanindranath Tagore’s idea of ​​Indianization of art and Rabindranath Tagore’s essay L’Ermitage inspired Jamini Roy to nationalism and to search for its roots.

The style of famous Bengal artist Jamini Roy, inspired by the famous pata form, is so famous that people have almost forgotten his early works which bear no resemblance to his later repertoire. For about two decades, after graduating from the Government College of Art in the first decade of the 20th century, Jamini Roy was imbued with the Western art style.

“In his early period, after leaving art school, Jamini Roy painted impressionist landscapes, post-impressionist portraits, nudes and still lifes influenced by (Vincent) Van Gogh, (Paul) Gauguin and d ‘ other Parisian artists. But if he mastered the styles of these great Westerners, his works were original. And India and Bengal have never left it. In his works there were also scenes of Indian villages, farmers plowing the soil and santhal women carrying jugs, ”explains Dr Prakash Kejariwal, art connoisseur, collector and founding director of the oldest and most commercial gallery. modern art from Calcutta, Chitrakoot. Jamini Roy also excelled in the production of portraits, both impressionist and classical.

Portraits were once at the heart of his work. He also left to posterity the famous date between the poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi at Shantiniketan in the Western Impressionist style. Painters struggled to make a living at the time. Roy produced portraits and landscapes for wartime foreigners who would collect them for nothing. At this point in his life, Roy was also doing various odd jobs to make ends meet. He worked in a small lithography establishment and a cloth shop, and painted theatrical sets.

In the whirlwind of personal turmoil, Roy always strove to adopt an indigenous style for his creative output. The Kalighat patas caught his attention, and he drew on them to a point. “The reflections of the architectural form of the Bankura temple are also strongly illuminated in his drawings, which are also rare,” Kejariwal observes.

In turn, the nationalist wave swept through Jamini Roy. And he never looked back. Undeniably, his education at the Government College of Art in Calcutta and his highly effective western-based works were of great use to him, but he has now embraced a totally native form and style with enthusiasm. It was a folk art mosaic, Kalighat pata style and art form of the temple.

“He is a master even when he paints a Beliator patas, where other folk artists from the region turn pale. This is because his work is deeply pictorial. This is where his genius lies, ”says Kejariwal. (By the way, Beliator is a remote village in the Bankura district of Bengal, where Roy was born in 1887). “And he made a constant attempt to discover a personal aesthetic, which he eventually achieved.”

Living art retracing the evolution of Jamini Roy as a painter from Western styles to indigenous forms

The loss of livelihood, brought about by his departure from Western art, caused him to face difficulties which only reinforced his determination to pursue the Indian form. This ultimately led him to create unforgettable iconic figures like mother and child and his famous “one-line” wives. The roots of these brilliant works are evident in the terracotta temples of Bengal.

Roy’s first phase was decorative to some extent. There were a lot of colors and patterns. Whereas later his paintings became minimalist. “It was like the works of Matisse. A look that screams Jamini Roy. He spent decades before his final phase arrived. It’s because he was a conceptual artist. So all this time he’s spent contemplating approaches that look different, but still communicate what he wanted to convey, ”says Kejariwal.

The transition from an artist whose early works reflected the Western style to a painter who passionately adopted a totally indigenous form dates back to the late 1920s and early 1930s.

This is the style that he continued to perfect throughout his life, leading to the quintessence of Jamini Roy.

It turns out that the idea of ​​Indianization of the art of Abanindranath Tagore and the essay of Rabindranath Tagore Hermitage, published in Prabasi, the famous Bengali literary magazine of the time, in 1908, which Jamini Roy read extensively in 1923, inspired him to nationalism and to search for his roots.

Interestingly, his art caught the attention of great painters like the three legendary Tagores – Rabindranath, Abanindranath and Gaganendranath. Even foreign art lovers like JBS Haldane (Sir William Dunn Reader in biochemistry at Cambridge University in the 1920s) and his sisters Naomi Mitichison have said, “How come Jamini Roy’s images are so simple, but you keep looking for years and don’t get tired. The English painter Frederick Harry Baines (1910- 1995) wrote in News and art reviews that Roy’s work had not suffered in any way. On the contrary, his best paintings showed increased tension and economy. An article on Roy also appeared in the French review Art.

Oddly enough, the famous Russian director Vsevolod Illarionovich Pudovkin (1893-1953) and the famous actor Nikolai Cherkasov (1903-66) collected his paintings, while a series of critics from different countries, including the famous British novelist EM Forster, wrote about Roy’s works. Its collectors were spread across China, France, Russia, England, Germany and the United States.

“After having migrated from his first Western works to pata style, Roy’s works reflected the Ramayana, Krishnaleela, Ganeshleela, Radha-Krishna, Christ, Shiva-Parvati-Ganesha, mother and child in various forms, folk and rural motifs, villagers, men, women and animals, among other forms. In his Kalighat pata style, its lines are simple, but lead to complex moments. His pata the lines are simple and bold. Originally derived from clay images, the lines were rounded at the beginning, ”explains art writer Anjan Sen.

Living art retracing the evolution of Jamini Roy as a painter from Western styles to indigenous forms

“True to his patua education, he began to produce works for the masses by reproducing his own works. He didn’t want his paintings to be just museum and gallery pieces. His magnificent lines remained, while the colors were filled by two disciples who worked fervently with him for the last 15 years of his life. These are none other than the studio works of Jamini Roy, signed and approved by him. This was triggered by the huge demand for his works, and the great artist wanted to make them available to the general public at affordable prices, ”says Kejariwal.

An anonymous quote from the 1940s says: “The history of Jamini Roy’s work reveals a slow and painful, but sure development of an artist who never wanted to separate his technical virtuosity from his own vision with his peaceful purity. , the unitary demands of its own aesthetic, which, more or less but always, delights the viewer.

Roy once said, “Peace is not good for an artist. How can this happen? The mind strives and burns all the time in the creative activity of art.

Ashoke Nag is a veteran art and culture writer with a particular interest in legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray.