||National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
||Pen and ink 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.
||9.8 X 17.5 cms
||The series of images depicting the life of Jesus Christ is perhaps one of the boldest experiments in figuration and narrativisation by Jamini Roy. The language of the Christ paintings is remarkable as Roy invests the grave, contemplative faces in their somewhat hieratic poses with iconicity. This particular sketch is a preparatory study for the more detailed painting, Crucifixion. The artist has here depicted the figure of Christ along with a devotee. The strong sense of geometricity, that reduces the forms to their bare essentials is apparent in the composition. Jamini Roy narrated episodes from Christian mythology in a way that could communicate itself easily to the ordinary Bengali villager.
||In the 1940s, Roy painted one of his most powerful series of
images revolving around the life of Jesus Christ. Although, he
may have painted occasional images of Christ in the previous
decade, he developed the visual idea more fully in the 1940s.
What was most thought-provoking about these paintings was Roy's
skill in adapting stories from an alien culture and yet giving
them a familiar appearance, as if they were people from our own