Wednesday, January 17, 2007

One of India's finest post-independence era painters Bikash Bhattacharya has passed away on 18th December 2006.

Bikash Bhattacharya who is probably the man who had revived realism in India art since the days of Raja Ravi Verma and Hemendranath Majumdar shot to fame with his Doll series in the 1960s. At a time when Calcutta was experimenting with the modern Art movement where abstraction ond distortion of reality ruled the roost, Bikash suddenly gave the Calcutta art world something long forgotten: realsitic imagery.

The Doll series was however realsitic only in terms of style and technique of painting. In terms of theme, it was more surrealistic. It had drawn the attention of common man once again towards fine art. This bringing back of common man toart was the single most important contribution of Bikash Bhattacharya towards Indian Art.

Bikash had never hesitated in painting for the magazines which most big names would shirk at. In a sequel novel on the life of another famous Bengal school artist Ramkinker Baij written by writer Samaresh Basu that came in rolling episodes in Bengali literary magazine Desh, Bikash did the illustrations without the slightest hesitation. These images which Bikash created in almost all the media from water colour, to gouache, to pastel, remains today some of the finest of Bikash's works.

Bikash Bhattacharya's later day series like the Durga series continued to remain suurealistic in themes. In later days Bikash experimented with many media, many themes and many related styles. But overall Bikash never left his basic style of using realistic technique to deal with his subjects.

In the ninetys Bikash's abilities started failing him and later he suffered from paralytic attacks and since then he had stopped painting and suffered silently sitting on his wheel chair. During his life time Bikash went from a humble back ground to become in a very short span India's top ranking artist. Then with equall suddenness, his creativity was halted by the paralysis. He had earned immense money during his lifetime. Yet till the last days Bikash remaind an artist for the masses.

Today Bikash Bhattacharya has many followers, some of who draw openly from his method of painting.
Sanjay Bhattacharya for one, adopts the style of realistic imagery to depict surrealist themes in almost all his paintings. One cannot fail to see the immense resemblance between the works Sanjay Bhattacharya and the Bikash Bhattachraya, wose disciple the former had been for some time.

Durga Series painting of Bikash Bhattacharya (above) and a painting by Sanjay Bhattacharya (below right) show similar techniques and treatment and bothe are thematically surrealitically.

Like Sanjay there are many who follow Bikash to the hilt. Yet Bikash remains the first revivalist of this technique in the post-independence India.
Bikash's death has ceated a deep void in Indian Art scene and it creates more importantly a need to analyse the roel of Bikash and his contemporaries in the development of art in general. In the forthcoming posts we would take up the role of many of Bikash's contemporaries starting with Ganesh Pyne.