Myriad hues of landscapes enlivens abstract canvas

IN MEMORIAM

From afar, they look like a series of inkblot cards, but look closer and they are quite something else.

These are the most delicate watercolours by late artist Bimal Dasgupta, which have been displayed at the exhibition titled ‘Innerscapes’ at Gallerie Ganesha, Greater Kailash II. 

Fondly known as Bimal Da, Dasgupta was known for his fantasy-inspired, highly introspective landscapes. Shobha Bhatia, director of the gallery says,  “An unsung master of ethereal landscapes, Bimal Dasgupta died in a car crash in 1995 at the age of 78 and one has seldom seen his works since. It is in this context that the upcoming show holds great significance.”

As many as 20 paintings exhibited depict landscapes which are abstracted and highly stylised. Signs of human habitation or suggestions of old structures and ruins are also noticeable. Like the illuminated face of Devi - in fine red line – peeps in the midst of green and grey forests and wild growths, trees in full bloom, or stony boulders inspired by ruins of Tughlakabad. 

His canvases abound with great mountains and forests, huge floating icebergs, miniature flowers and fossil impressions of the ferns.

“Dasgupta’s abstract paintings are a sublimation of his visual experience, transmitting the power that commands the seas, the sky, the woods, the green grass, or the stark ridges. Each painting is like an encounter with an inner reality where there is no action. The only criterion is the ultimate truth,” says Bhatia.

Interestingly, earlier in his career as an artist, Dasgupta had also worked in oils and acrylics. He had to give up oils, when he developed an allergy to turpentine and linseed oil. Thereafter, he took up acrylic. But his preferred medium always remained watercolour. 

He is quoted to have once said, “I believe if an artist has mastered one medium, he can work in the others as well. I paint only when I am in the mood. The colours are always there in my heart, an unseen power in the background drives me to put them down on canvas.”

Dasgupta, who used to teach at the Delhi College of Art, shifted his work from realistic images to the completely abstract. He used sharp-defined colour schemes, making his landscapes come alive with shifting shapes and barely visible forms. The Lalit Kala Akademi conferred a National Award on him in 1956 and a fellowship in 1989.

The exhibition is on view till September 22 at Gallerie Ganesha, Greater Kailash II from 11 am to 7 pm till September 22.

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