Last year the 130th birth anniversary of the renowned Indian artist Jamini Roy was celebrated across the world. Even Google Doodle commemorated the occasion with a sketch that pays homage to Roy's signature aesthetic.
Jamini Roy paintings are much celebrated even today and are in the possession of various art collectors and museums across the world. Some of these museums include the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His work has also been adopted by the fashion world in form of motifs and patterns on fabric.
Most of us have seen his paintings especially in a Bengali house, but do we really know how much Jamini Roy has contributed to Indian art? India’s contemporary artist Shantala Palat shares some snippets about the famous Indian artist. Shantala Palat says that Jamimi Roy’s artwork developed as a form of rebellion against the western traditions of art as he felt that classical nudes and oil did not do justice to his style of painting. Here are some interesting facts about the artist.
Jamini Roy was born on 11 April 1887 into a Zamindar (land-owners) family of the Bankura district, West Bengal. He was just 16 years old when he went to study at Government College of Art, Kolkata and it was here that he become one of the most famous pupils of Abanindranath Tagore. The latter was not only a well known artist but also the nephew of Rabindranath Tagore and the creator of ‘Indian Society of Oriental Art’ and establisher of Bengal school of art.
Inspiration from Indian Culture
At Kolkata College of art, Jamini Roy was taught to paint in the prevailing academic tradition ,ie, drawing classical nudes and painting in oils. However, he soon realised that he needed to draw inspiration, not from Western traditions, but from his own culture, and so he looked to the living folk and tribal art for ideas. He was most influenced by the Kalighat Pat (Kalighat painting), which was a style of art with bold sweeping brush-strokes.
Art for the mass
Jamini Roy had three main goals that he wanted to achieve through his artwork. First, he wanted to make art a form of entertainment that could be easily accessible to people from all walks of life. He also wanted Indian art to essentially develop its own unique identity. Lastly, he wanted to capture the culture that he saw around him and depict the simple lives of the people he saw.
Unique art material and colours
Jamini’s paintings depicted ordinary figures from day-to-day/rural life, scenes from the epics and representations of animals. He did not just turn to his roots for artistic interpretations but also used the materials and colours typically used in the Kalighat style. He restricted his palette to seven colours: Indian red, yellow ochre, cadmium green, vermillion, grey, blue and white. These were mostly earthy or mineral colours.
Roy was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1955, and Indira Gandhi (among the admirers of his work, as was Mahatma Gandhi) declared him a national artist.
Additional note- Check out the wonderful Looking At Art series featuring Jamini Roy in a book “ A Trail of Paint” by Anjali Raghbeer and the illustrations by Soumya Menon. This Tulika publication guides children to learn and appreciate the various facets of Jamini Roy’s life and paintings in form of an adventure and some vital clues about the artist. The illustrated pages are a sheer delight !