||Cat and Lobster
||National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
||Tempera on paper
||Jamini Roy (1887-1972)
|Artist's Life Date / Bio Data
||Jamini Roy was one of the earliest and most significant modernists of twentieth century Indian art. From 1920 onwards his search for the essence of form led him to experiment with dramatically different visual style. His career spanning over nearly six decades had many significant turning points and his works collectively speak of the nature of his modernism and the prominent role he played in breaking away from the art practices of his time. Trained in the British academic style of painting in the early decades of the twentieth century, Jamini Roy became well-known as a skilful portraitist. He received regular commissions after he graduated from the Government Art School in what is now Kolkata, in 1916. The first three decades of the twentieth century saw a sea-change in cultural expressions in Bengal. The growing surge of the nationalist movement was prompting all kinds of experiments in literature and the visual arts. The Bengal School, founded by Abanindranath Tagore and Kala Bhavana in Santiniketan under Nandalal Bose rejected European naturalism and the use of oil as a medium and were exploring new ways of representation. Jamini Roy, too, consciously rejected the style he had mastered during his academic training and from the early 1920s searched for forms that stirred the innermost recesses of his being. He sought inspiration from sources as diverse as East Asian calligraphy, terracotta temple friezes, objects from folk arts and crafts traditions and the like. What was increasingly apparent from 1920 onwards was that Roy brought a joy and
||Signed 'Jamini Roy' in Bengali at the bottom-right corner of the
painting with brush in red colour.
||39.8 X 27.6 cms
||Perhaps one of the most iconic paintings of Roy, 'Cat and Lobster' depicts a cat with a lobster in its mouth ready to be devoured, with its tail ending in a colourful trefoil. There is a strong element of fantasy in the richly saturated palette that Roy creates from a limited range of vegetable, mineral and earth colours. The bright colours and flat forms demolish the boundaries of naturalism and lend a playful mood to the depiction.
||Given the air of solemnity in his paintings, the touches of
irony, playfulness and whimsy come as a pleasing surprise. The
lighter touch is mostly manifest in his paintings of birds and
beasts. For instance, the 'Bird' has a witty
perkiness. The solid presence of the 'Bull' is contrasted by the
colourful lines that adorn its corporeal bulk.