Jamini Roy

What do you think, can be achieved by bright colors, straight lines and exaggerated curves?

Well, when the brush is wielded by the brilliant Jamini Roy, I would say seven colors and few lines, would create nothing less than magic.

As I visited National Gallery of Modern Art and looked around for traditional paintings, my eyes were riveted on the fantastic collection by Jamini Roy on display. In particular,the cat with a prawn in it’s mouth caught my attention and I kept watching it for a couple of minutes, absolutely mesmerized by it’s bulging eyes.

This painting is an excellent example of 3D images. I stood transfixed not because of any superior beauty or magnanimous image, but because of the clever way, the painter has created layers in his simplistic work.

Look closely and you would find the slight tilt of cat’s head, its protruding eyes and the intensity of expression, drawing you in. The background, including the rest of the cat’s body is conveniently kept out of your vision, giving an effect of distance and space where none existed.

I got the feeling as if the animal had made a kill and as it was getting ready to devour, I barged in and obstructed it’s pleasure, thereby earning a piercing gaze.

It appeared as if a kodak moment was caught and painted. And I believe this is what Jamini Roy does in his paintings. He picks up the most common events, sifts through the package and then paints the most crucial moment of that event. And that’s why his paintings appear frozen in time.

Be it the grace of a woman walking with her head held high as her sari pallu gets caught in the wind and fans out behind her, giving the impression of a majestic aura

Or the image of a child, lovingly held by his mother, who is zealously holding his mother’s breast, as if caught while sucking.

Or the simple side profile of a widow sitting coyly on ground, brooding over her hopeless future or reminiscing about her past.

For me, the prominent theme in his paintings is the minutest detail of a particular moment, easy to be missed in the blink of an eye, and yet is observed and preserved by the artist in the brightest hues possible.

Jamini Roy had started out as a modern painter, graduating from College of Art in Calcutta, under the tutelage of Abanindranath Tagore. But, later he leaned more towards the traditional form of Paintings, drawing inspiration from the kalighat style.

And I am glad that he stuck to the traditional motifs, as the mythological and common figures are brilliantly captured by him, almost in a photographic way.

Jamini Roy’s fascination with long, protruding eyes, seems inspired by the Durga idols, and is a prominent feature of his art. In the final stages of his career, he gave up using artificial colors and moved towards natural materials using wood and clothes for the background, and mud and flowers for colors.

It is rumored that the famous Rosogulla maker of West Bengal, K. C. Das, has almost his entire collection of Ramayana paintings and proudly displays the same in his sweet shop. I am yet to see those walls adorned with priceless art, but the ones I saw in the National Gallery of Modern Art, did make me a fan of Jamini Roy for life.

Leave a Reply