For over four decades now, Ganesh Pyne has inarguably been the single most influential living artist in Bengal, exemplifying a rare combination of prolific talent and popular saleabilty. Known for a unique visual grammar molded from such varied influences as the Bengal School, Cubism, Rembrandt and Klee, Pyne’s works evince an arcane affect emerging from dreamy umbral depths. The artist’s oeuvre has been underlined by a mytho-poetic fixation that Pyne has sought to manifest in a sort of ocular flesh, rendering a curious blend of the tactile and subliminal.
In the latest exhibition on at CIMA, Ganesh Pyne has chosen to visualize the Mahabharata in his inimitable style. This Indian epic, loved across the world as a treasure trove of political and philosophical treatises, has for millennia stirred the imagination of poets, litterateurs and visual artists through its seemingly limitless possibility of interpretation. Motifs such as the skeletal structure-- macabre and teetering precariously between a daydream and a nightmare, recur time and again to denote, with opulent drama, some of the more famous episodes from the text. One possible fallout of this strategy, however, may be the difficulty for those not conversant with the text to relate to the works independently. Yet the abundant use of saffron ensures that the viewers instantly connect the subjects to the ancient (Hindu) roots of Indian heritage. Personally, what struck a special chord were his ‘jottings;’ an unintended collage of sketches, texts and random colours, on graph paper. These fragments remain frozen incomplete, pregnant with the possibility of the immense, the unknown, just waiting to morph into fully fleshed characters. But somehow, for all their signature Pyne style, these works seem far more tangible than the polished canvases that the artist is best know for.
-- Paroma Maiti
(All images courtesy of CIMA and the artist.)