Shobha Bhatia, director, Gallerie Ganesha presents a solo show by Bengal school master Ajoy Ghose at Gallerie Ganesha, E-557, Greater Kailash II, New Delhi, from September 7 till October 10, 2012.
Says Shobha Bhatia, Director, Gallerie Ganesha and curator of the show: “With all this emphasis on contemporary and modern art, somewhere the old traditional techniques of Indian art are going unsung and getting lost. So it is important to create an awareness of important landmarks in the evolution of Indian art amongst the younger art viewers. Ajoy Ghose is an unsung master belonging to the Bengal School of Art who has remained true to the labour intensive and highly skilled technique of wash paintings, something which our younger artists have chosen to ignore in this fast-paced lifestyle.”
The traditional Bengal school watercolours (wash technique) were brought into India via the Japanese. In 1903, Japanese scholar and art critic Okakura sent his two artist disciples Yokoyama Taikan (1868-1958) and Hisbida Sbunso (1874-1911) to India, and they stayed with the Tagores in Calcutta. Abanindranath then observed how Taikan, using a large, flat brush charged with water over a carefully painted and highly finished surface, gave it a range of soft and delicate tonalities. Later, Abanindranath acknowledged this in one of his autobiographical writings but he also developed the technique further. After a thin transparent layer of watercolour, the painting was literally dipped in water (the Japanese never did it), which washed away some of the colour, and yet another transparent colour-wash was given on it. In this way, after successive colour and water-washes, different colours fused, bringing out tender tones, replacing the stern geometry of European pictorial space with a dream-like timelessness.
It is in this context that the solo show by Ghose assumes importance as he is one of the few living artists who still practises this technique of wash paintings. Beautifully recreating the stories from Indian mythology – from Ahilya and Savitri, Karna-Kunti and Karna Parashuram, to depicting divinities like Durga, Ganesha and Shiva – in subtle colours yet finely nuanced lines and delicate features, Ghose has reasserted himself as an artist still charmed with the mystique and charismatic glow of what is essentially Indian. His technical expertise in space division, use of dimensional forms and lines, use of soft colours indicates his unique conceptual approach and modulation of inherited skills to the development of a visual language that is definitely modern despite being anchored in tradition.
Born in Bengal in 1938 and educated at the Government College of Art & Crafts, Kolkata under Dhirendranath Brahma, Satyendranath Bandyopadhyay and Benode Behari Mukherjee, Ghose has held important positions as Member of Faculty Council, University of Kolkata and Head of the Department of Drawing and Painting - Indian style at the Government College of Art & Crafts, Kolkata from 1984 to 1998. He is also the Founder Member of the contemporary Bengal Artists Group. His paintings are in several collections in India and abroad. Ghose is continuing the trend set by his predecessors of the Indian style painting of the Bengal School - a trend started by Abanindranath Tagore and further promoted and developed by artists like Nandalal Bose, Kshitendranath Majumdar, Asit Haldar, Abdur Rehman Chughtai, Benode Behari Mukherjee and others.