Bengal School of Art in town

Painting exhibition

Paintings from a significant genre of Indian art are on display. Art curators Bhavna Minocha and Ruchika Jain are presenting an exclusive collection of works by the ‘Masters of Bengal’ - Rabindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, Debi Prosad Roy Choudhury, Ganagndendranath Tagore, Ramkinkar Baij, Nikhil Biswas etc. – as well as the famous Kalighat paintings originated in the 19th century. These collectively demonstrate the heritage and legacy of both Bengal and Indian historical art. 

The Bengal School of Art, commonly referred to as Bengal School was an influential art movement. It was a style of Indian painting that originated from Kolkata and Shanti Niketan. It flourished throughout India during the British Raj in the early 20th century. Also known as the ‘Indian Style of Painting’ in its early days, it was associated with Indian nationalism (Swadeshi) and led by Abanindranath Tagore (1871 -1951). It was also promoted and supported by British arts administrators like EB Havell, the principal of the Government College of Art, Kolkata from 1896, and eventually led to the development of the modern Indian painting.  
Kalighat paintings originated in 19th century in Bengal in the vicinity of the acclaimed Kalighat temple. These paintings were done on cloth or patas (leaves). They depicted conventional images of Gods and Goddesses and scenes from epics like Tulsidas’ Ramacharita Manas. The artistes were villagers who travelled from place to place with their scroll paintings and sang scenes from the epics depicted in the paintings during gatherings and festivals. Kalighat paintings grew so popular that they were replicated in German lithography on glazed paper. Most Kalighat paintings ended up in museums or in private collections.

Bhavna Minocha, art curator, says, “It took us nearly two months to plan the project. The Bengal School of Art is one of the finest outcomes of cross-cultural fusion during the colonial period. It showed an organic amalgamation of visual ideas. It evolved a very interesting contemporary language. Kalighat paintings, on the other hand, show the fine transformation of folk art into a popular genre. It is amazing to see how an encounter of rural artists from Bankura, Malda, Murshidabad and other areas developed into a full-fledged genre of paintings. This took place between 1830-1930.”
Also, do check out the hand-written letters by Rabindranath Tagore during the Independence movement. The exhibition is on till March 31 at 1 Anandgram Farms, Opposite Aya Nagar Metro Station, Mehrauli.

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