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Dipesh Majumdar

Blog and Paintings

Ramkinkar's Artworks in NGMA Bengaluru

July 26, 2012

An evening well spent in the national Gallery of Modern Art! So many paintings and sculptures of Ramkinkar Baij! It's a huge collection, difficult to finish in one single day... especially when each of the paintings, sculptures and doodles has a story, a social and economic background behind it. Oh God… how much I wished they allowed cameras inside!

Not that I saw his works for the first time. However I never saw them in such huge quantity, all in one place. The bigger, larger than life, sculptures which were not possible to move to the gallery were shown in big illuminated pictures.Large LCD TV's were installed that to show discussions about Baij by prominent artists/critics. Everything looked neat, nicely organized and thoroughly planned out. What I found in Ramkinkar Baij's works is a fresh breath of artistic endeavors. None of them seemed repetitive or boring. Unique are his brush strokes on canvasses and deft and confident touches on the sculptures… rendering them a solid, larger than life form and a rugged surface.

It was roughly in those 1940's when Bengal was invaded with famine, plague and poverty, India was yet to win her independence and there was a gloomy environment in the whole surrounding. And that did influence his art-works. He couldn't remain in isolation with the pain-stricken people surrounding him.

There is this stooping sculpture of Rabindranath Tagore which is magnificent... it radiates the aura and personality of the great poet and it does so distinctly. A confluence of wisdom and age. And the Dandi march of Gandhi... the epitome of sacrifice, piousness, purity, truth and simplicity. What better way of representing Gandhi's piousness can one possibly get! There was the painting of an evening sky in the purest of abstract forms. The representation of mother in the most affectionate form for her child. And who can ignore the santhals, rigorously working hard on the paddy field, some in groups and some in seclusion.

Public acceptance of such works is difficult to get. Because there is another angle or perspective that one has to tune to in order to appreciate these works. This was the time when the seeds of modern art was getting sown in India. Baij was one of the pioneers in this direction. And that's why when he created the sculpture of the famous Netaji on his horse, it was rejected right away. Art in its highest form is seldom for normal people. It needs a matured mind which goes through a lot of grinding through reading art, seeing artworks and experiencing art for a long period of time. But a true artist is never hindered by such feedbacks.

In one of the sculptures we can see the rib cage marks of a famine victim with bulging eyes and painful face, bereft of food and shelter. It represents pain in the crudest form. It goes to show how much Baij could empathize with the sufferings of the people of his time.

Ramkinkar Baij - A Retrospective curated by K.S.Radhakrishnan... this exhibition ends this August 17th. Hurry!!! It's a golden opportunity to witness such an exhibition covering almost all of Baij's major life time works. Not to be missed at any cost!

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