Isn’t it loverly when the works of such stalwarts as Gaganendranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, Nandalal Bose, Sunil Das, Wasim Kapoor, Suhas Roy and Paritosh Sen shimmer alongside the more contemporary lot of Ashoke Mullick and Subrata Gangopadhyay?
Most of these names are proverbially well-known in virtually all Bengali households. So much so that one can hardly find a Bengali home today that does not house at least one Jamini Roy print; making of him, perhaps, the most popular and the best-known painter. His appeal cuts across a very wide spectrum of the public. Large stylized features used to portray Bengali-Hindu Goddesses wrapped in the homely attire of the typical Bengali mother going about her usual, mundane, and mortal household chores are the hallmarks of a Jamini Roy.
Celebrated as both a member of, and yet uniquely differentiated from, the Bengal School of painters, his allure lies in his unique power to visually transfer the divine to a very everyday manifestation that was easy to relate to. To be able to see his rare, and often incomplete, uncoloured sketches and feline motifs is one of the highpoints of this exhibition. To peek into this other, more gestational side of this maverick makes it a fascinating watch!
Gaganendranath Tagore-, the comparatively lesser-known brother of Abanindranath, never really got the due he deserved. Famous for incorporating Cubist inflections in his art and for his extremely witty posters that were in many ways ahead of their time, it was nice to see some of his works up close. I was only hoping there would have been more of them to see. The works of Nandalal Bose were similarly too few to provide a representative experience of the artist.
My only reservations about the show came from placing the names of Subrata Gangopadhyay and Ashoke Mullick in the same league of ‘Indian Masters’! Though unquestionably talented, I think that more time needs to pass to justify uttering their names in the same breath with which we express our appraisals of the works of Jamini Roy and Paritosh Sen.
-- Paroma Maiti
(Images from top to bottom: Sunil Das, Untitled, 9.5"x 7", ink on paper; Jamini Roy, Untitled, 4"x 3", pen and ink on paper; Wasim Kapoor, The Head, 36"x 36", acrylic on canvas; Gaganendranath Tagore, Untitled, 6"x 4", pen and ink on paper. All images courtesy of artist and gallery)