Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Pater Durga: A brief note on Patadurga of Hatserandi Village of Birbhum District, West Bengal

Pater Durga: A brief note on Patadurga of Hatserandi Village of Birbhum District, West Bengal    (published in the Searching Lines, 2015, a students' journal of the History of Art Department, Kalabhavana, Visva-Bharati)
Amitava Adhikari

Gurusaday Dutta in his seminal work “Banglar Rasakala-Sampad” wrote that generally in the daily life of the interior villages of Bengal, we come across practice and demand of mainly three kinds of painting activity.  Firstly, ancestral practice of narrative scroll Patachitra by the people of Patua community,  secondly floor and wall painting known as Alpana  practiced by village women and thirdly painting on dolls made with clay and wood. Along with these regular paintings, we get to see painting on sara (round terracotta plate) known as Sarapata and single frame paintings known as Chaukapata (square Pata) by the Patuas or Sutradhars or other painter communities of Bengal. Nearly all the paintings by Patuas of Kalighat were small Chaukapata, namely images of Radhakrishna, Shiva-Durga, Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswati etc. These were bought by the visitors to use as home deities as well as to decorate the walls of their houses.
Ramesh Basu in his article “Banglar Prachin Chitra O Pat” mentions that E.B. Havell read an article by Ajit Ghose at India Society of Landon on 20th October 1926. This was later published in the society journal ‘Indian Art and Letters’ Vol. No. 2 with the title ‘Old Bengal Paintings: Pat Drawings.’  It is stated there that “those oldest Patas found from Bengal were images of Gods and Goddesses. These Patas were worshiped as substitute to three dimensional images. The practice still exists in some villages. Hence it can be claimed that Patas emerged to fulfill religious/ ritual need.” It is farther stated that examples found of this kind of painting which were made on a surface prepared by putting coating on stretched cloth were not many. Most of them are images of Durga and other gods and goddesses. There is a description about an old Patadurga, more than hundred years old (from 1926), painted by Iswar Sutradhar for some patron of Bishnupur princely state. In this Pata, Goddess Durga is situated at the centre of a temple painted centrally. Other figures of gods and goddesses are put at the niches of the temple. At the top Shiva is shown with his acquaintances Nandi and Bhringi. On the right side of the Goddess, Lakshmi and Ganesha and on the left side Saraswati and Kartik are painted.  The blue background of the Pata was highly appreciated in this description. Valuable ornaments and dresses of the Goddess as painted reference of textile and jewelry excellence of the time got special mention too. 
Patadurga exists in a particular geo-cultural territory of West Bengal. The practice of worshiping Patadurga can be seen especially in Birbhum, Bankura, Bardhaman and some areas of West Medinipur. In this ancient visual repertory ancestral traditions as well as the method and materials are more or less continuing with the time.  

Sudhir Chakrabarty in his book “Chalchitrer Chitralekha” (1993) gave an insightful account of the life and works of Patuas who are engaged with Chalchitra Pata. Chalchitras are painted narrative on a semi-circular panel where figures are drawn from Puranic sources available greatly in folk life of Bengali society.  Placed behind- above of the Durga clay idol, Chalchitra creates a backdrop as well as connect the main idol with references from Purana. Usually painted in a semi circular space at the top of the backdrop no idol seems complete without a Chalchitra. Most of the Chalchitra Patuas come from Kumbhakar (potter) and Sutradhar (carpenter) community as they are the makers of the idol they paint the Chalchitra also. After painting of the Chalchitra the idol composition becomes complete and ready for worshipping. Chalchitra from different areas as well as from same area with various artists, bear local-village-family-individual characteristics, all at the same time with varied degree of synthesis. Sudhir Chakrabarty expresses his despair about the present state of this field where understanding and appreciation of this special repertory of folk painting is becoming rare. So the Patuas involved with the art are losing their interest and it is becoming a usual practice to paste readymade Chalchitras, bought from the market at the back drop. 

During his field-work for this book on Chalchitra, Sudhir Chakrabarty visited Hatserandi to meet Kalipada Sutradhar who was the senior most Patachitra artist alive then in the village. Sudhirbabu gave a compassionate account of the artist’s faith, skill and despair. That is where he found the existence of Patadurga. Sudhirbabu describes:

“Hatserandi by its name is very unique. It does not go with the common average village names usually found in Bengal. The ritual and customs of Durgapuja in this village is also different from all other places. Because, in this village instead of clay idol, Duga is worshipped in Patachitra. Earlier all the images for Durgapuja in this village were painted on Pata. Now six/seven images are Patadurga and remaining five/six are clay images….. It must be remembered that in our country, practice through Ghat-Pat-Jantra was preferable for worshipping Devi Durga or Shakti. Use of Murti or idols came lately. So in one particular village if we found this practice of Pata- puja then a specific search about the people, social structure and priest community there can provide some new information. There is no place here to go deep into this description. But a hint can be placed here that seventy to eighty families of Brahmin lives there and this tradition of worshipping Patadurga in the Chattapadhya family is continuing at least for two hundred years. One contextual fact is that the Patadurga is kept there for the whole year after the puja and immersed next year and a new Patadurga is installed at the worshipping place. This practice has effects on the colour application of the Pata. Loud colours are used in the Pata so that it can last for one year.”
Hatserandi is situated eight miles away from Bolpur by the bus road towards Palitpur. From the bus stop it is half an hour walk on the moram road through paddy fields to reach the village locality. Now the road from the bus stop to the village has been concretized. Hatserandi is also known to some of the interested scholars and researchers for terracotta temples. Myth says that there were 108 number of terracotta temples belonging to different families of the village. But most of them have perished or existing in a decaying state. Few (5 or 6) of which has got some reliefs on them. Almost 20 years back when Sudhirbabu went there, Hatserandi was a developing village. He mentioned that the village got majority population of Sadgops(farming community). Bagdi, Bauri, Sutradhar and some other communities also inhabit there. The geo-natural arrangement shows that the structure of the village is very old. The economic condition of the villagers is more or less stable. Every one Sudhirbabu met showed respect for the Sutradhar family and showed him the way to the house of Kalipada Sutradhar. Kalipada Sutradhar with his brother Gurupada Sutradhar and their sons provided the carpenter’s work for the village. That’s why they were also known as Mishtri (the title commonly used in Bengal to mention skilled worker). Along with this regular work every year Kalipada with his son Adargopal would paint the Patadurgas for Durga puja. Painting Patadurga for puja was their family tradition. Kalipada was above seventy, half blind with cataract expressed to Sudhirbabu his eagerness for this act of painting. Fragment of the conversation between them following below:

S: I heard that you paint most of the Patas of this village?
K: Yes, you are right.  I have crossed seventy seven. As long as I am getting blessings from my fathers and forefathers and the Mother (Durga) let me paint I will continue painting. This is not my affair. I do not paint.
S: If you don’t paint then who paints?
K: She makes me paint whose Pata it is.
S: Yes, it is very strange! How do you paint without the vision?
K:  See, then I have to speak from the beginning. I am writing Pata (Pat lekha) when I started helping my father since childhood, likely when I was ten. You can say it like an addiction. When the Devipaksha (fortnight before Durgapuja) starts my mind is fuelled with eagerness. Restiveness occupies to write (paint) her rupa (image). My sons know all these. Surely the mind becomes filled with a pure serenity. Villagers also come to know that now Kalipada Mishtri will start work (painting).

This tradition continued with his son Adargopal Sutradhar. Although Kalipada Mishtri did not get much recognition from outside Adorgopal had managed to get recognition from the outside world. Adargopla’s Patadurgas are documented and collected by interested eminent researchers like Deepak Bhattacharjya. Harubala Sutradhar, wife of Adargopal, mentioned that Patadurgas by Kalipada Sutradhar were also collected by Deepak Bhattacharjya, Ashok Kundu and Badal Pal. Adargopal was known to scholars and artists from Santiniketan and used to get invitation from Poush Mela Committee. Jhanak Jhanker Narzery, eminent artist and ex principal of Kalabhavana went to Hatserandi to meet him and see his work. Purnanada Chatterjee, ex principal of Pathabhavana, writer and reporter with Ananda Bazar Patrika, belongs to the abovementioned Chattapadhya family of Hatserandi. He also inspired Adargopal and endorsed his art activity. Adargopal Sutradhar, educated to secondary standard was serving as work education teacher in Singi High School of a neighbor village and retired in 2004. He had passed away at age of 72 out of a cardiac arrest in 11th February 2013. Lately because of his ill health his cousin brother Manik Sutradhar filled the demand for the Patadurgas. Manik Sutradhar, son of Badal Sutradhar is an idol maker (Pratima Shilpi) learned painting Patadurga from Adargopal.
Manik Sutradhar’s style of painting to some extent departs from the family style. His drawing of figures is free flowing and bears character of primitiveness.   

This year Harubala inspired their only son Ramkrishna to adopt the family tradition and paint for the Chattapadhya family. So Ramkrishna painted his first Patadurga following his father’s style taking reference from the photographs of Adargopla’s Patadurga. These photos were gifted to the family by one researcher (mother and both he could not remember the name). Ramkrishna is a young man (in his mid twenties), married and father of a two year old son had interest in art since his childhood. He along with his mother Harubala helped Adargopal to prepare the Patadurgas. The art works he produced during his growing years were appreciated in the village. As a consequence after his high school study he tried to get admission in Kalabhavana to learn painting. That time he started to come to the campus and met many senior students at Kalbhavana and showed his drawings and paintings to get feedbacks. Naturally he was not quite clear about his ambitions but however vaguely he was looking towards a career as a modern artist. That’s what I felt when I met him then at Kalabhvana. Somehow he could not pass the first admission test to Kalabhavana. Dejected by the failure he lost his interest and did not apply again and slowly got absorbed in other family duties. Now after his father’s demise and with his encouraging mother he is getting interest in the family tradition. He is meeting people known to his father and also managing to present himself to the invitations earlier he would accompany with his father. Last  year during the Poush Mela Ramkrishna along with his mother met eminent Bengali film actor Ranjit Mallik who showed special interest to the family tradition of Ptadugra and promised them that he would visit Hatserandi during coming Durgapuja. 

Patadurgas of Hatserandi are usullay six feet in length and six feet in height with an arch shape at the top end. Along with the usual Durga and associated images Chalchitra is also painted following this arch. First the frame is prepared with ripe bamboo and sal-wood. Then a new cloth (Markin Kapar) is pasted on the frame after making it wet with clay-water solution.. For that purpose sticky clay (entel mati) solution is used. This wet cloth is stretched with jute rope from behind the frame. When it gets dried the surface is coated with white chalk (khari mati) solution. The coating is applied for two-three times. Then the figures are drawn and composed with faint red colour on the white surface. Then slowly colours are filled. Dust/earth colours are mixed with gum and water. Primary colours are mixed in varied proportion to produce different colours and their shades. After making the figures the back ground is painted with blue. The black colour is used at the end. Very intelligent application of shades and colours brings a natural illumination to the whole Pata. 

I went to Hatserandi to document Patadurga during Durgapuja of 2013. Then I found four Patadurgas from four different families. One painted by Ramakrishna, another by Ratnakar Mete from Gandhpur, a neighboring village of Hatserandi and other two by Manikchandra Sutradhar. These Patadurgas are known by the name of their patronizing families. Such as Chatterjee-Barir Patadurga, Rai-Barir Patadurga, Mukherjee-Barir Patdurga and Mondal-Barir Patadurga. Ramkrishna painted for the oldest puja of Chatterjee family. Previous year Manikchandra Sutradhar painted for the Chattapadhya family as Adargopla could not do the work due to ailing health. Usually Adargopal continued with the Chatterjee familie’s endorsement after his father Kalipada Sutradhar. Facts reveal that Manikchandra’s father Gurupada Sutradhar also painted Patadurga for this family beside Kalipada Sutradhar. Same happened with other families too. Due to different reasons patron families change the artist endorsed for Patadurga. At present Manikchandra (in his late sixties) is the senior-most artist from Hatserandi. His main engagement is to produce clay idols for Durgagapuja and other pujas all through the year. Along with that he is also painting Patadurgas for more than last ten years. This year he painted for Mojumder-Bari and Mondal-Bari. Ratnakar Mete, in his early forties, has been endorsed for Mukherjee-Bari’s Patadurga for last three years. Earlier he had painted for Mondal-bari. Ratnakar’s style of Patadurga is quite different from the artists of the village. Ratnakar’s Patadurga shows influences of printed calendar images of Durga. Apart from above mentioned four Patadurgas another  family, Pal-Bari bears this tradition but in a different way. Ten years back I have seen there a Patadurga in oil painting on ten feet by ten feet canvas attached to the wall with wooden frame. Artist’s name ‘M.N. Bhoumik, Durgapur’ was written on the canvas. This oil painting was painted at least 35 years back from when I saw it. Utpal Pal, my friend from the family revealed that before this oil Patadurga Sutradher artists of the village were endorsed to paint for the family. This year I found there a large size flex image printed from some available calendar image of Durga.            

“Honour both spirit and form – the sentiment within and the symbol without.”—Teaching of Sri Ramakrishna

The brief report on the Patadurga of Hatserandi village reveals a very specific sub-field in the Patua discourse, which is providing to be a potent force to carry out the traditional mode of ritual and life as well. There we see and artist’s relationship with the society is continuing to exist in a dynamic state.
Artist -thinker Benodebehari Mukherjee observed that, as the traditional artist (karigar) traverses a way of the convention their individual reflection does not always get surfaced in their work. In contrary he/she knows what his /her responsibility is. Sudhir Chakraborty opines in this context to his research on Chalchitra Pata, that these artists are fallen now from this sense of responsibility to their work and tradition and traces the cause behind this situation. He observed that the dilution happens because their works does not pay much and there is a great lack of connoisseurship also. The common base of faith between the artists and the society they serve to live has been tattered by the passing time and changes happening through modernization (read urbanization), commoditization and universal inclination towards money-capital. In this context we can look again at Benodebehari’s explanation of the situation from his fundamental quarries on art, “Shilpa Jiggasa” in the book “Chitrakar”:

“Man has to do some work to arrange for food, clothing and shelter. But if all his energy is exhausted to arrange these basic needs then it becomes impossible to follow any great ideal. For that leisure is required. Artist, Writer, Philosopher, Scientist all work hard all over their life to manifest their individual ideal within this leisure. It becomes difficult for the artist to create art when the society fails to provide this leisure…. To touch the heart of the society with one’s own heart and expand his own heart by the heart of the society is the sole responsibility artist carries forward. If the society tries to displace artist from his own position then the artist community revolts.”  

As we find from the contemporary history of folk life that if these marginal artists could not succeed to revolt against the predicament of their ruining profession then what they at the end attempt is to leave the profession for a life of a lesser workmanship. Who loses and who wins in the game may be an interesting subject to ponder upon but as a whole the society loses its elementary aesthetic sense.

1.       Bhattacharya, Ashok (Ed.). Paschimbanger Patachitra An Anthology of Essays, Loksamaskriti o Adibasi Samaskriti Kendre, Department of Information and Culture, W. Bengal Govt. Jan-2004.
2.       Bhattacharya, Mihir & Ghosh, Dipankar edited, Bangiya Shilpa Parichay: A collection of Bengali articles on the Folk Arts and Crafts, published in periodicals between 1901-1950; compiled by Dipankar Ghosh, pub- ibid
3.       Bhattacharya, Asutosh. Banglar Loksamaskriti, National Book Trust, India, 2010.
4.       Chakraborty, Sudhir. Chalchitrer Chitralekha, Dey’s Publishing, Kolkata-73, 1993.
5.       Chatterjee, Partha. The Nation and its Fragments, Oxford India Paperback, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1995.
6.       Dey, Bishnu. Jamini Roy: Tanr Shilpochinta o Shilpakarma Bishoye Koekti Dik, Published by Asa Prokasani, Kolkata, 1348 (Bengali Year)
7.       Ghosh, Binay. Banglar Loksamaskritir Samajtatwa, Aruna Prakasani, Kolkata-6, 1979.
8.       Ghosh, Binay. Paschim Banger Samaskriti, (three volumes), Prakash Bhavan, Kolkata-12, 1978-79.
9.       Ghosh, Dipankar. Banglar Pater Durga, Ananda  Publishers, Kolkata-9, 2009.
10.    Guha-Takurta, Tapati. The Making of New Indian Art: Artists, Aesthetic and Nationalism in Bengal 1850-1920, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994.
11.    Jain, Jyotindra. Other Masters: Five Contemporary Folk and Tribal Artists of India; edited and curetted by Jyotindra Jain, Crafts Museum and The Handicrafts and Handlooms Exports Corporation of India Ltd., New Delhi,1998.
12.    Jain, Jatindra (Ed.). Picture Showmen: Insights into the Narrative Tradition in Indian Art, Marg Publication, (Vol. 49 No. 3), Mumbai, 1998. 
13.    Korom Frank J, Village Painters: Narrative Scrolls from West Bengal, Museum of International folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
14.    Leslie, Donna. Aboriginal Art: Creativity and Assimilation, Macmillan, Melbourne, 2008.
15.    Majumder, Kamalkumar. Bangio Shilpadhara O Annanya Prabandha: Selected Essays on Art. Compiled & edited by Dayamoyee Majumder, Sandipan Bhattacharya, Dipayan, Kolkata, Baisakh, 1405( Bangali year).
16.  Mitter, Partha. Art and Nationalism in Colonial India 1850-1922, Occidental Orientations, Cambridge University Press, U.K, 1994.
17.    Mookherjee, Ajit Kumar. Folk Art of Bengal, 1939.
18.    Mukhopadhaya, Benodebehari. Chitrakar, Aruna Prakashani, Kolkata-6, 1385 (Bengali year).
19.    Panikkar, Sivaji K. Mukherji, Parul Dave and Achar, Deeptha (eds.), Towards a New Art History: Studies in Indian Art, D.K. Printworld (p) Ltd., New Delhi, 2003.
20.    Santra, Tarapada, Patua o Patachitra, Medinipur, Hawrah o Chchobbish Porgana, Loksamaskriti o Adibasi Samaskriti Kendre, Department of Information and Culture, W. Bengal Govt.
21.    Santra, Tarapada, Bangalir Samaskriti Chinta: Banglar Samgrahasala, Ananda Niketan Kirtisala, Howrah, 2002.
22.    Some, Sovon (Ed.). Associate editor: Prabhatkumar Das,  Monograph on Art & Artists of West Bengal (Pots and Potuas), West Bengal State Akademi of Dance Drama Music & Visual Arts, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, 1992.
23.    Subramanyan, K.G. The Creative Circuit, Seagull Books, Calcutta, 1992.
24.    Subramanyan, K.G. The Living Tradition: Perspectives on Modern Indian Art, Seagull Books, Calcutta, 1987.
25.    Tagore, Rabindranath. Towards Universal Man, Asia Publishing House, New Delhi, 1961.
26.    Tagore, Rabindranath. On Art & Aesthetics: A Selection of Lectures, Essays & Letters, Subarnarekha, Santiniketan 2005.

Monday, August 7, 2017

K P Krishnakumar's Boatman with Ravindra Reddy's Young Girl.

Revisiting Jamini Roy ( this article was published in the ‘Ahana’, a art journal from GCAC, Tripura,2016)

The performativity in Jamini Roy
Here I would like to begin with an interesting description about how Jamini Roy would present/mount/ decorate the exhibition of his new paintings along with patas and other village art objects in his collection. The whole ambience pictures out as a high energy space and a viewership with a performative potential.  
    “The artist gives evidence of consummate stage management, embellishing three rooms with his paintings emulating village pats…. Actual village pats are on display in an adjacent room…. Little lamps are lit and incense burnt. Floors are covered in traditional Bengali alpona patterns. In this room decorated in Bengali style indigenous seats take the place of chairs, which are of European origin.”[1]
The planning of the exhibition presented both -- as to which tradition he is situating his works and also what he has achieved as departure from the tradition. Partha Mitter substantiated Jamini Roy’s position as an artist and thinker from Shanta Devi’s remarks:
“Roy’s objective was not to imitate the village artisans but to learn from the expressive power of their lines. In his search for formal simplicity, Roy emphasized lines at the expense of colours, using black outlines painted with a brush on white paper. He forsook oils for tempera and concentrated on primary colours. Acknowledging Roy’s startling originality, the reviewer confessed that even Nandalal had failed to shake off the hold of high art, especially Ajanta, even though he had briefly flirted with pats. Nor did she fail to notice Roy’s essentially political act of making the local signify the national.” [2]    
Here we see that the artist searched for a way to create a dialogue between the ‘learned mastery’ of an art collage educated artist[3] with the so-called ‘unlearned mastery’ of the traditional artist. And throughout his creative life as an artist he excelled more and more in that communication by remaining playful in his explorations of traditions both indigenous and the European.
Radha Kumud Sharma (Daju), a travelling artist and shadowgrapher/performer with a three cell torch, described in the only television interview[4] available, about the splendour of the indomitable spirit of any artist, “Playfulness is the key to remain creative and potent for a contemporary expression. It saves the expression from fetish.’’
Now we can revisit the life and practice of Jamini Roy through the above mentioned perspective of performativity and playfulness as in reverse we often encounter criticism about the artist as being encaged into his own style to cater the demand for his works. This brand of criticism points out a kind of ‘fetish’ in Jamini Roy’s repetitiveness. This article would site opinions of different researchers on Jamini Roy and try to unwind the debate for the sake of finding out where the artist and his works stands in today’s time when the art field and the discipline of Art History have extremely diversified. For that purpose it would be necessary to understand once again, the complex scenario of modernism in Indian Art when Jamini Roy rose as a pole star. Here I give a brief account of the scenario from artist researcher writer Pijushkanti Mukhopadhya’s article in Bengali from this volume of the Ahana, where he has effectively unravelled the complexity of the situation and showed how different forces of Western Modern Art were working behind the Modernism in Indian art:[5]
“The influences of Modern Western Art on the artists of the Semi-Colony or Neo-Colony countries are manifested mainly in two ways, depending upon the extent of colonial education appropriated or inhaled by any particular artist. Those who have inhaled higher extent of colonial education, they got a colonised mindset which is completely alienated from her/his native culture. They, yes, they certainly became imitators of western forms, modes of formal experimentations, modes of simplifications, of techniques, tools, materials or even the motifs and finally the imagery. Other kind of artists who had some base in their own culture (which may be an amalgam of various traditions but still having a decisive hegemony of a particular collective perception of their country and have come into contact with western traditions, they try to assimilate the two set of traditions in their own way.
“In Indian subcontinent this is exactly what have been tried by the artists of ‘Calcutta Group’ (established in 1943), “Progressive Painters Association’ (est. in 1944 at Chennai), ‘ Bombay Progressive Artists Group’ (est. 1947), ‘Decca Art Group’ (1948), ‘Delli Shilpi Chakra’ (1949) etc.
“There used to be a third kind of Artists who tried to continue taking indigenous folk art tradition as their restarting point. Abanindranath in the mid-thirties of the last century; Jamini Roy in his later portion of career; Jainul Abedin, Kamrul Hassan, Meera Mukherjee can be named in this regard. But the discreet and subtle impact of their visual trainings in Western Art traditions can be traced in their works and languages also.” 
Here we can notice the shared backdrop of indigenous interest amongst the leading artists of the time, of which Jamini Roy was a significant part. This concern to connect to and take from the art traditions of the land- local origin- belonging to the larger mass,  was an obvious outcome of the root-searching efforts of anti-colonial movement, to which Modernism in India was highly indebted to. On the one hand we get to see these pioneering artists with deep insight into the local traditions explored the knowledge of the Western Modern art in a corresponding sense whereas on the other hand we also find other artists- whose number is always greater than the previous brand of artists, who enjoyed the fruits of such synthesis by producing what is trendy in the field and the market.[6] Pointing out to this paradox Pijushkanti proposes:   
“There must be some critical tools to differentiate between the serious and honest effort to acknowledge and respond to the inner cultural logic of any culture which is outside the arena of the culture, to which, that particular respondent artist belongs originally; and on the other hand insignificant initiations by some artists with a colonial mindset, who unfortunately does not have the critical faculty and insight to unlock the cultural vaults to handle and successfully use the treasures.”
These two positions are interconnected, but as we have already noticed, the later one is the derivative of the previous one. One reaches there after a self-searching journey risking everything she/he has already achieved and find the treasure to ‘handle and successfully use’ it to create new treasures through her/his creations. Then, this new treasures are recognized by the critics and valued by the market. Others, who couldn’t or wouldn’t go for their own journey applies the features of these new treasures to accumulate material treasures for a better life by selling out their ‘trendy’ works. But these positions are not fixed human/artistic categories as there are multiple other positions between these two extremes. And it is also very true they are shifting always; as one can become successful finding his own way and keep searching for new horizons or one can reach a vast open territory and mount it with his found treasures without going to search for another new way or one can bring his treasures to the market to sell it out and become ‘trendy’ and keep reproducing his triumphs. Other way one can begin as a ‘trendy’ clever artist and on the way, with time, she/he could get attracted to the self-searching journey risking her/his comforts and cleverness to find her/his own treasures. Possibilities are endless. Pardon me for being elaborative. In reality these are the very commonly used frames we often apply to look at the extremely diversified positions amongst the contemporary artists of today and some scholars of Global Art History[7] agrees that this heterogeneity of positions were present in earlier periods too. The present article is an attempt to locate Jamini Roy in that heavily dotted map (of positions) and to understand the journey and practice of Jamini Roy as an artist and thinker.
Although at present the new media art is in flourish and having its high all over the world, still no one can reject the relevance of  picture making or painting (as it categorized as one of the ‘old media’). But we see that the painting as a practice has continued since the its beginning in the primitive time and some artists have always found the medium --painting line color and form on any given or prepared surface, the age old two dimensional medium, as vehicles of contemporary thought and expressions. Their works showed again and again the potentials of the medium as they promises more than what has been already achieved.  Successful proponents such as David Hockeny, R.B.Kitaj and many more contemporary artists who are essentially painters, from the so called ‘post modern’ time, have confirmed the immense possibility and significance of painting as a potent medium even for the present time. Keeping this consequence in mind if one revisits the art and life of artist like Jamini Roy it would be difficult to forget the incontestable excellence of his achievements as a painter. If that happens then it would prove to be a failure against the short sightedness and lack of vision of the very discipline of painting and criticism as well
“You have your way. I have my way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”—Friedrich Nietzsche.
“Let’s meet and try to know about each other’s way; otherwise we might have to confront and collide accidentally.” – Radha Kumud Sharma(Daju).
 Questioning the silence
It would be interesting to mention here that Gurusaday Dutta, the pioneering researcher, writer and collector of indigenous art and culture organized an exhibition in the very premises of Indian Society of Oriental Art (ISOA) in March 1932, when he presented for the first time in India the folk artists of rural Bengal and their works. He introduced a group of Patuas from Birbhum to demonstrate their art to the distinguished guests as part of the inauguration of this exhibition. This exhibition and Sunayani Devi’s works[8] geared up the path for Jamini Roy for a fresh interest in indigenous art. The Pata exhibition also worked as a prelude and set the stage for Jamini Roy’s subsequent 1937 ISOA exhibition. This 1937 exhibition of new works by Jamini Roy was mainly an initiative of eminent senior artist and organizer Gaganendranath Tagore. 
 From this 1937 ISOA exhibition Jamini Roy’s popularity shoot out in the art circuit of Bengal and the country and he started getting appreciations and patronages from national as well as international intelligentsia and collectors. But commercial success and critical appreciations never eluded him from his quest of a modernist language which would germinate from the soil and tradition of the land and could connect to the people of the land and abroad too. With many ups and downs he continued his experimentations with the basics of picture making like a sage artist, like Cézanne and never failed to emerge victorious in his struggles.
Because of his unique style and simplified techniques and also his artistic persona Jamini Roy enjoyed the patronage and support of many national and international intellectuals. The first Indian principal of Calcutta Gavernment College of Art and Craft Mukul Dey, eminent senior artist Gaganendranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Avant-garde Bengali poets Bishnu Dey and Sudhindaranath Dutta, influential art critic Shahid Suhrawardy, civil servant and pioneering folk- researcher Gurusaday Dutta, author art-critic Govindaraj Venkatachalam were some of the most well-known national admirers. Art authority and educator Stella Kramrish led the list of foreign admirers followed by John Irwin, personal secretary to the then governor of Bengal, Bombay-based Austrian critic Rudi von Leyden, British biologist JBS Halden, novelist E M Foster among others. Later during his centenary year in 1988 a collection of Bengali essays on his life and art was published by Prativash. Edited by Prasanta Daw this collection: Rupatapash Jamini Roy features essays by contemporary artist, art historians and critics like Ajit Chakroborty, Poritosh Sen, Ramananda Bondyapadhya, Gonesh Haloi, Bikash Bhattacharya, Pranabranjan Roy, Prasanta Daw along with literatures by some of those already mentioned above.
From the above detail a continuous history of engagement with sincere concern about the art and life of Jamini Roy can be stressed.   But what happened next? Jamini Roy’s 125th birth anniversary has passed silently without any notice from many existing art organizations and institutions. This silence naturally triggered some questions. What does this silence about such an important and admired proponent of Indian modern art means? With the rising cosmopolitanism and multidisciplinary characteristic of contemporary art practice, is Jamini Roy’s relevance waning away? Or is it a kind of ignorance which infected the discipline (of art and art history) from inside and made it weaker to understand its own strengths and the true achievements of the artist like Jamini Roy?   Questions are many and they all demand extensive working-out to encompass and address the nuanced nature of such silence and this article does not aim to find answer for them but simply pushing up some necessary concerns to understand the nature of this silence and ignorance. 
Opening research in this context one needs to look deeper into the available discourse around the artist. For this purpose I would like to bring forth a particular tendency of art historians/writers whose preference for Jamini Roy’s sketches and drawings makes a peculiar point of ignorance and neglect over the paintings of the artist. Sketches, drawings and paintings are syntactically[9] different practices. It is not easy to understand why and how an artist’s drawings and sketches could be evaluated against the backdrop of the paintings by the same decoding approach to these two different syntactical manifestations. I found a similar approach which seems quite illusive in the article “Sketches by Jamini Roy” by Pranab Ranjan Roy[10]:
 “A comparative study of figures in movement in Jamini Roy’s finished paintings and in sketches would be relevant here. Jamini Roy has been eminently successful in showing figures in static posture and also in capturing the frozen moments of a figure in slow movement, but has by and large failed to capture dynamic figural gesture or movement in his paintings. But just by changing the character of lines and shapes he has admirably portrayed movement in these sketches.
“The visual differences between Jamini Roy’s finished paintings and sketches have just been enumerated; let us now try to see the effect of these differences and their significance. Both in his paintings and in his sketches, Jamini Roy takes off from the visible aspects of Bengal’s rural-agrarian life. Even when he refers to myths, legends and semi-historical episodes, the psychic associations Jamini Roy evokes through stylistic kinship with Bengal’s folk art styles, so well noticed, also have their roots in rural agrarian life. But emphasis on the sensuous quality of elements of pictorial presentation, on designs created with those elements and on decorativeness of the designs, make his pictures self-complete entities and render all references to the phenomenal world merely incidental. Not image but precision of workmanship, not denotation but decoration, attract attention.
“If some lessons can be drawn from the history of arts, one lesson is that, formalist art can attain truly great heights only when the autonomous art object, evocatively or otherwise, embodies some emotion or refers to some abstract concept.
“Decorative presentation of visually pre-existing phenomenon, even if it is in purely pictorial terms, usually fails to embody in itself the essence of any emotion, or refer to any abstract concept. As formal art, Jamini Roy’s finished paintings often fail to reach that height, because of over decoration and dependence on only visual stimuli.”[11]
We can find corresponding approach even in the learned criticism of Sobhon Shome about this aspect of ‘emotionless repetition’ by the later Jiminy Roy.  Shome writes, “Some of the artists are holding at the same spot for twenty-five or thirty years. That’s inevitable. When some characteristic style of an artist achieves a commercial ground in the art market then we often see that the artist dares to change his style. The artist fears, if her/his new creation remains unrecognizable to the buyers. Commercial success has made the artist dormant. It is so natural in capitalist economy. Instead of the internal urge when the artist becomes supplier to the market demands, art also turns into emotionless commodity. The same happened with Jamini Roy[12]  
Now we would notice how later generation researcher Sharif Atique-uz-zaman tried to find consolation for the artist: “May be this has some truth but along with that it carries some harshness too. Jamini Roy was the only artist in the whole India who survived with his family by only through selling his paintings. Some of his works were sold for rupees twenty five only during that time. He had to compromise with the life. Because of this compromise some artists restrained themselves from engaging into more experimentation. They have lost the courage to encounter the unknown future. …The artists like Jamini Roy, Kamrul, and Sultan explored the tradition which originally functions with fewer variations. So they also could not manage wider field to explore. So we encounter a fatigued state of mind from the repetitiveness, it may seem that we are seeing the same picture round and round; or the meaning these works bear - that also to some extent becomes unattractive, this kind of danger in the long tradition of folk originated art has trapped many artist inside a specific space, time and country.”[13]    
But one also needs to understand that all traditions function with some limitations and some internal drive to cross over the boundary by applying the playfulness. Which is the characteristic of a ‘living’ artist; s/he may belong to any tradition, pre-modern or modern. From a distant look all works of the Chitrakars of Naya, Medinipur may seem the same but with a closer and involved engagement one can in fact observe how individual approaches plays a significant  role to diversify the tradition within.  “It is this playfulness that dissolves the discriminating line between the sacred and profane; it is this playfulness that dares to transgress the traditional boarders and instantly incorporate contemporary motifs without any anxiety of cultural loss. Playfulness does find itself useful in various ways, particularly in manipulating and enriching the visual language. But most importantly it has always safeguarded many indigenous cultures from rigidity and repetitiveness. In other words, it is possibly the only way to sustain a living tradition and ward off the cultural stereotyping.”[14]
Now if we note what Henri Matisse, one amongst Jamini Roy’s favorite few, observed about simplification in paintings we may go nearer to the standards in the paintings of Jamini Roy. 
“We work towards serenity through simplification of ideas and of form. The ensemble is our only ideal. Details lessen the purity of the lines and harm the emotional intensity; we reject them.”[15]
Emotional intensity is the key point here. In the works from more matured phase of Roy’s painting repertoire we get to notice that the whole form, its gesture, even its frozenness and its relation to the space around is becoming ensemble of emotional appearance. There is no ‘other’. Interestingly this is also a primary characteristic of terracotta temple reliefs of Bankura what Jamini Roy attributed his conviction to. Now we can review the above critical points through the discourse available on the artist in Partha Mitter’s The Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and Avant-garde 1922-1947.  
The Triumph of Modernism: Jamini Roy in the front (cover)
The present article will try to look back critically to the alleged limitation of the imagery in Jamini Roy’s paintings and the serious annoyance about the repetition he did of his works. The imagery the artist chooses to reach out to the people comes from his political awareness about the self and the culture of the society as a whole. Following Partha Mitter’s synthesis of the artist’s range of imagery and elements behind its formation along with the concerns the artist possessed as an ‘artist of the community’ in his seminal work The Triumph of Modernism we can find some clue to the debate around the ‘repetition.’                                                                                               
 “Roy refused to draw inspiration from classical Hindu temple sculptures because he considered them to be a product of high Brahminical culture, outside the everyday experience of the villagers. Equally the spontaneous pat paintings and Bankura clay figurines were more relevant to the Bengali experience than the distant Rajput miniatures, one of the sources of the historical Bengal School. Significantly, Roy viewed Tagore’s paintings through the same ‘local’ lens: ‘for two hundred years from Rajput to the present we lacked something in art….Rabindranath wished to protest…against all Indian high art.’…. As the Expressionists believed in multiple local aesthetic possibilities, Roy contended that the mythology that nourished a community art had of necessity to be local and timeless. His view allowed for plural aesthetic possibilities of folk art of different regions.                                                            
“While Western primitivists aimed at merging art with life in disavowal of aesthetics of autonomy, they never ceased to believe in the unique quality of aesthetic experience. Roy sought to erase it, deliberately seeking to subvert the distinction between individual and collaborative contribution in a work of art. Tradition was a collective experience for Roy, the village art for the community, as opposed to the individualist aesthetics of urban colonial art …. Roy’s objective of making the signature meaningless was his playful way of subverting what Walter Benjamin calls the ‘aura’ of a masterpiece. In addition, he turned his studio into a workshop to reproduce his works cheaply. This was art for the community, cheaply produced and anonymous, inexpensive enough to be afforded by even the humblest. His concern with making useful objects was extended to making elegant decorated pots that benefited from his works to the cognoscenti, but he was determined from the outset to sell them also to the ordinary people who could not afford artworks.”[16]
One can objectively notice that how the artist’s concern as an artist of the community, may be an imagined community, triggers the urge for repetition to reach out to the art lovers even belonging to the humble economic condition by reducing the cost of the works without compromising the aesthetic quality. But again one needs to remember that this aesthetics with a communitarian concern, by default works against the exclusiveness/ uniqueness of the ‘masterpiece’. This phenomenon was not easy to digest for many of his admirers also, during the days of formation of modernist art field, its collectors and appreciators in this country.  Partha Mitter provides us with an abridged criticism Jamini Roy had faced from the close circuit of friends during the most matured phase of his creative repertoire when he started to produce anonymous Jamini Roys in house workshop with his sons and acquaintances from his village as co-artists. Jamini Roy would call it Karkhana (factory). The aim was to produce works mainly for the people who could not buy Art (paintings). Even today the word is in common use by the image makers of Kalighat and Kumartuli to point out their workshops.
Mitter observes: “Roy’s use of tempera and cheap materials of the village craftsmen often caused the deterioration of paintings in a short time. In the period, when installation, performance art or other forms of transient art forms were still in the distant future and art generally meant painting or sculpture, Roy was easily misunderstood and disappointed his admirers and patrons. It became known that Roy did not set great store by the uniqueness of signed work. People complained that he seldom had any original works, only numerous copies. By 1944, even his close friends Bishnu Dey and John Irwin were convinced that Roy had reached the end of the road: having ‘created a style with its own logic whose very perfection became congealed without the warmth of the transient outside world’, he became a ‘martyr to his own mastery’. Though sympathetic, Venkatachalam was equally troubled by Roy’s ‘factory’, though admitting that the works were moderately priced, considering their demand. ‘This I know is very much used against him. He is strongly condemned for this mechanical craftsmanship, for this soulless repetition of an original idea for the sake of money and popularity … Truth to tell, there is something to be said in favour of this criticism,’ in 1937, Suhrawardy had been the first critic to half sense the artist’s motive: ‘Jamini Roy, having deliberately placed himself under the yoke of our folk and historical iconography, cannot be accused of striving after originality. Yet he hastened to add that despite limitations imposed by tradition on his creativity, his works showed freedom and vigour. Hence it was wrong to describe him as decorative painter. Only Rudi Von Leyden, who had first-hand knowledge of the avant-gade in Austria and Germany, showed unusual perspicacity:
Some critics complained about the picture factory in which Jamini worked with his son and other young relative. The same themes were executed again and again in unchanging pattern. Style became routine. This criticism is not quite justified. Reproduction and ease of duplication are part of the craft of folk art and amongst the reasons for its simplifications. Whoever accepts the manner must not complain about the practice.[17]
“What the cognoscenti have simply failed to grasp is Roy’s emergence as a radical critic of colonialism through his art. By the logic of his own artistic objectives, this supreme individualist was now voluntarily returning to the anonymity of tradition. Significantly, Roy eschewed artistic individualism and the notion of artistic progress, the two ‘flagships’ of colonial art. …
“Jamini Roy’s primitivism sought confirmation not only in Tolstoy but also in Tagore. His communitarian painting turned its back on colonial culture, seeking to restore the simple goodness of art, lost to the elite of the colonial metropolis. Roy’s heroic search for ‘authentic Indian art’ and his utopian formulation of the village as the site of the nation were of considerable importance to the creation of Indian identity. Roy lived his ideology in his art but that did not necessarily make him the most remarkable painter of pre-Independent India. It was his ability to create a perfect synthesis of political and artistic ideas that made him such a charismatic painter. His art is austere uncompromising simplicity reminds us of Mondrian’s intellectual journey in search of an idea. Jamini Roy’s intense concentration and his ruthless ability to pare down the inessential details to attain a remarkable modernist brevity, boldness and simplicity of expression, became a vehicle for his deep but understated social commitment.[18]
Without understanding this social commitment behind Jamini Roy’s stylistic repetitiveness it will appear to be decorative and market driven. Partha Mitter confirmed us with required boldness regarding the relevance of Jamini Roy as a socially committed artist with a way to reach to the people he belonged to.  During 40s Jamini Roy in a letter to Bishnu Dey expressed his realization about painting differently, making his art accessible and affordable to everyone and anyone who was interested. Jamini Roy’s Karkhana was doing that in large scale. ‘Jamini Roy wasn’t just taken in by the artistry of the village patuas but their philosophy as well. The patuas believe that an artist must be able to sustain themselves and their families solely through the act making and selling paintings. Painting for them wasn’t just a profession; it was a way of being. And so it eventually became for Jamini Roy…Jamini Roy decided to incorporate the same principles in his life and eventually started calling himself a patua.’[19]  If there was any market for Jamini Roy it is a market created by the artist himself. One simply cannot miss to notice the difference between that early phase of modernism in art and private collections by the admirers in the subcontinent with the post independent scenario of art market controlled by private and state funded galleries and buyers. In this consequence one needs to rethink on the statement by Sobhon Shome, about the market driven artists; ‘Instead of the internal urge when the artist becomes supplier to the market demands, art also turns into emotionless commodity. The same happened with Jamini Roy.’ By bringing Jamini Roy close and attached to the promiscuous nature of contemporary art market and careerist artists Shome falls prey to the same ignorance knowingly or unknowingly; which just dilute the seriousness of the artist’s practice and philosophy. In return the field itself gets infected by such views and lose the poles with which it can tie itself to the ground. Without which it tends to behave like an abandoned gas balloon whose rope has just escaped from the grip - moving with the wind. Either it will burst in the air and come down broken or it will keep travelling with the wind and when all the gas is leaked slowly it comes down squeezed to its flattened state.
 Market force and its challenges to the artists: conclusions and confusions
K G Subramanian has talked a lot about the complexity of art market and nuanced nature of artist’s struggle to deal with it in many of his discussions and articles.  “Most of the works of art we see and admire in the museums are made by people trained in professional school and guild. But these were part of a tradition, a widespread network of concepts and practice which upheld a comprehensive worldview that was shared by the generality of people. But this unity of outlook does not anymore survive in the modern world. What we see here is a maelstrom of cultures; its diverse activity streams do not necessarily take notice of each other unless they are driven into a crisis. In the context of this break-up what gains in importance is the individuality of the human beings to function in various patterns of conformity, the overriding ambition of each individual is how to stand apart and outshine the others. This assumes greater importance in this globalized world, where each activity stream— tread , economy, statecraft, art, literature—is driven by various pressures from within and without, and becomes an independent race track. This encourages breakneck competition and motivates each participant to override the other through innovations in ideas, technology and marketing.”[20]
K G Subramanian understands the complexity we face here with an autobiographical note and communitarian concern: “… I do not have a quarrel with market forces. Wherever art has flourished it has had a market, often a whole network of markets, answering the demands of both the prince and the peasant; many museums have exemplary collections of these which you find rewarding to see. Surely, these markets were sensitive part of a heritage; but individual effort. At the same time when we are not part of a steady heritage and to that extent lack, or are deficient in, socially inculcated levels of taste and judgement, it falls to each practitioner to find for himself a well-connected location—or a sense of the big within which his each small act will find meaning and substance. True in the context of cultural globalization, which is the hallmark of modernity, there are multiplicitiy of paradigms one can connect oneself to.”[21]  
Where do we reach with such market driven competitiveness is a matter of serious concern for any artist or critic of contemporary art. One can claim that the scenario discussed above is a precise account of the failures of the art field in general as it could not produce the desired effectiveness or connectedness with the larger society. Still now avant-grade/activist artists are trying to challenge the market hegemony and bring the life back into art and its expressions. It would be interesting to notice in this context the widespread development of performance art, performance artists and performance art festivals in this subcontinent since last three decades, whose primary aim is to bring art back into the public sphere where it (art) originally belongs to; bringing the small act by one to the community with an aspect of the big (tradition).
What the viewer observes in a performance/ art, inspire his/her ability to transcend him/her through the process of the performance (which recreates alienation in the viewer) between him and the artist/art (as in a performance artist’s body turns into art). Movements of the body - making gestures -some of which may be planed initially but most of it are spontaneous in a performance.  The planed part connects to a ritualistic base of the performance and the spontaneous part addresses to the real time space quantum where the viewer is also an active member. More the intensity of the performing body raises towards the exhaustion of his/her energy, more the intensity grows in the viewer to intervene and take part in the process of the happening. It’s a high voltage thing. In this context we can remember the rise of high voltage musical performances (rock music) during the time of the rise of performance art as an active medium for artists, as a simultaneous phenomenon in Europe and America. Both (new mediums) address to the change of intensity in the performance experience and response for the need of a changing time and its demands. We will leave this matter just as a hint for a more detailed study later. What is contextual to the present article is about the planned or the ritualistic aspect of the performance -- how it helps to connect with the viewer. Studying the short history of performance art one simply cannot miss to notice that most of the performance artists choose acts and rituals of some traditional or religious practices and try to de-contextualize it from its rootedness into the tradition/religion and apply it for creation of a new meaning for the act. From this perspective Dandi (2013)by Taufik Riaz and Gour Tui Amar(2014) [22] by Mome Bhattacharjee and Taufik Riaz in association with Performers independent (Pi), Kolkata, are two evidences of appropriate and significant work produces during the new wave of performance art in Kolkata since last 4-5 years.  
Dandi is a very common ritualistic practice to offer physical piousness and reverence to the divine being, often seen in many pilgrimage sites. The practitioner offers dandi by crawling and stretching the body flat on the earth and measuring a path to the divine being. The aim is to acquire blessings to fulfil some wish. This very act got de-contextualized when a person (Taufik Riaz) offers Dandi from Indian Museum (Govt. Collage of Arts and Crafts) to the Asiatic Society (Park Street) following the narrow footpath-- crossing the by lanes at around 12 in a summer night of 2013. This gesture or act or motif or performance, whatever it may be called, by an artist could evoke multiple layers of meaning from a very innocent pious ritual.
To my understanding Jamini Roy’s involvement with the tradition/community happened with similar performativity such as the Dandi Performance. In other words Jamini Roy’s works and practice made the way possible (may be not so directly) for an artist 100 years younger to him.
It would be interesting to note here what Jamini Roy told Mary Milford, during the late phase of his repertoire about his paintings on Christian theme: “This is my latest period. I shall continue to work at this theme. I am not a Christian. I do not read the New Testament or any other writing but I meditate on what I have heared and what I know. Religious art is abstract and symbolical. There have been few, if any, satisfactory paintings of Christ for expression of his life. This is a great theme and I will continue to struggle to find a fitting expression in Modern terms.”[23] Partha Mitter rightly commented: “It is not certain whether Roy was particularly religious. … What is important here is not his religious faith but his belief in the connection between a vital artistic tradition and its mythological richness that sprang from the cohesion of its community. This became a central plank in his theory of the communal function of art.”[24]
Jamini Roy’s position on the communal function of art has encouraged later generation artists of the progressive movement in India to deal with the diverse band of mythologies connected with the land and cultures attributing to the idea of Indianity. It won’t be irrelevant to note that M F Hussain’s engagement with Hindu mythologies was based on such belief. Hussain clarified “I wanted to communicate with the people through Ramayana and Mahabharata because they are the folklores of the country…the Supreme Court judgement clearly states that ‘art is dangerous. If it is not dangerous it is not art’. Even Kalidasa was accused for obscenity…Whatever I have done so far I have done with conviction and love and in the process if somebody’s feelings are hurt I apologize.”[25]
The inherent qualities such as honesty and involvement behind any creation make the work communicative to the people. Without these qualities it is difficult or one may claim impossible to save the work from self fetish. Jamini Roy as a true predecessor to M F Hussain never ever suffered that gloom of isolation as he never ever part himself aside from the people. 
It would be relevant here to note what Ritwik Ghatak spoke about this matter and what he was always concerned about his journey as an artist and what he looked for in any artists from any field:
“An honest artist has to be part of the society. S/he has to keep in touch with millions of people and be part of their struggle. It is impossible either for me or for any artist to make good film without maintaining intense relation with the fast changing social order and the extensive movements.”
Ghatak farther clarified: “I believe involvement to be the duty and need of every artist. At the same time (I) would alienate the audience. These are the two separate aspect of the same work of art. Unless the artist has thorough knowledge of the subject of his/her artwork, unless it belongs to his/her known world its expression will not be spontaneous, not be authentic. Besides, unless there is deep involvement with something it is possible to neither hate nor love it intently. It is possible to express something boldly (in art) only when the artist is emotionally involved with it. Only then it is possible to alienate the audience. From the need to involve them alone arises the need to alienate them.”[26]
Not the end
“I have scaled the peak and found no shelter in fame’s bleak and barren height. Lead me my Guide, before the light fades, into the valley of quite where life’s harvest mellows into Golden Wisdom.” –Rabindranath Tagore.
Now to end this present article it would be interesting to reveal the very special relationship between Jamini Roy and Rabindranath Tagore. As we know the most famous painter of his time Jamini Roy had great respect for the paintings of the poet-artist Rabindranath. During his early years with conflicts when in around 1930s Jamini Roy saw Rabindranath’s paintings he was overjoyed and found in it a new inspiration. Jamini Roy discussing Rabindranath’s paintings affirmed:
“When I see a human being painted by Rabindranath I realize that this human being will never flag down or it does not appear to be swaying with the wind. I realize that this human being has weight and has a strong backbone.
“In my estimation Rabindranath wants to protest against the bankruptcy in our artistic heritage that has crept in for the last two hundred years since the Rajput period. He searches for a strong backbone for his painting. His protest is against the fashionable and the so-called Indian painting, and no doubt against the slogan of ‘Pan-Asian Art’.[27]   
Thus the visionary artist Jamini Roy clarified his views about the strength and uniqueness of Rabindranath’s paintings. The multifaceted collection by Bishnu Dey (already mentioned above) attempted to grasp this visionary aspect of Jamini Roy. Letters in this collection contributed an important part for the purpose, also featured two letters from Rabindranath to Jamini Roy. From these two letters one can observe how assured and confident the great poet-artist felt when he came to know about Jamini Roy’s appreciation and admiration of his paintings. This on the other hand explains how Rabindranath valued the visionary and lone splendor in Jamini Roy. 
In this context analogy between these two pioneering thinker practitioner for whom indigenous thoughts and aesthetic sources played the role of foundation for their individual creations could be read in another aspect. Generally one can articulate that, what Rabindranath doesin the field of music with the Bauls of Bengal particularly songs of Lalan Fakir, Jamini Roy does something similar in the field of visual art with the ‘folk’ arts of Bengal particularly the patachitra tradition. Taking from the indigenous sources then after became a tradition itself for the later generation artists belonging to the high art field. But one needs to think what is happening on the other side of the exchange? Or can it be called an exchange at all? As we know the same band of admirers who appreciate indigenous roots in a modern/contemporary artist take a different position reviewing works of the ‘folk’ artists. There the preference goes to how authentic and unchanging and pure the work is as they are belonging to a ‘living tradition’ as if the modern/ contemporary artists are outsider and do not have any tradition. In this situation where the double standard is openly practiced, when Hari Das Baul or Gour Khyapa sings Rabindranath’s songs and Swarna Chitrakar or Bhaskar Chitrakar or Anwar Chitrakar or Biswajit Patua incorporate elements and essence of Jamini Roy’s paintings in their individual way, a significant departure happens. We notice the splendor of the master artists’ connectedness as we find that they have reached where they wanted to- may be to a very few but still it is no less significant than the emergence of a new artist in the contemporary art field. It brings us round to the question who is the viewer of one’s works?  However rooted one artists works may be if it remains unseen or redundant to the larger mass whom we categorize as the people bearing the ‘living tradition’ the work gets paralyzed/ engulfed/encaged by the market force and the capitalist mode of the art field. Jamini Roy’s paintings-- same as the songs of Rabindranath evidently crossed that fate. People from the lower strata-the subalterns have taken care of them by finding their source of resistance from them.     

[1] Shanta Devi (daughter of journalist Ramananda Chatterjee) reviewed the 1931 exhibition of Jamini Roy’s new paintings at his North Calcutta residence cum workshop. The exhibition was inaugurated by Stella Kramrisch. Shanta Devi appreciatively noticed how Roy transformed the exhibition space into a ‘traditional’ Bengali environment as an appropriate setting for his paintings.  
[2] Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-garde 1922-1947, Partha Mitter, Oxford, 2007, p-106
[3] Jamini Roy studied painting taking Western Painting as specialization in the Government Collage of Arts and crafts, Calcutta, from 1906-11
[4] The Old Man Struggling with Shadow, Television interview by Mukesh Sharma,
[5]  Ouponibeshik Mon O Adhunik Shilpo Andolon (Colonial Mind and the Modern Art Movement), Pijyushkanti Mukhopadhay, Ahana (issue-?), p. 45-50.(Translation by the writer himself)
[6]This colonial attitude can be found in many of the artists and critics in varying degrees, in the peripheral countries. … Many artists belong simultaneously to more than one tradition; they tend to be eclectic, which surely they share with the best of Modern Western Artists…. Those eclectic selections are done from an honest inner aesthetic necessity, which may not be the case for some other artists for whom the selections are the result of their study of the imageries, languages which are trendy in the market.  The reverence and disregard of which had been mentioned in the way may also come from lack of love to any tradition, lack of commitment to any culture, for all the love and commitment has been carried away by the singular objective of commercial success. Commercial success by supplying what is trendy, what is in demand?”- Pijushkanti Mukhopadhya,ibid  

[7] Is Art History Global? , James Elkins (editor), The Art Seminar, Routledge, 2007.
[8] Sunayani Devi was the younger sister of artist brothers Gaganendranath and Abanindranath. She is the ‘naïve’ woman modern artist from an elite backdrop, for the first time in Bengal, looking into the indigenous tradition to find subject, form and imagery for her paintings. Jamini Roy was fascinated to look at her paintings, particularly by the big simple eyes of the characters she painted. Partha Mitra put out the fact:  ‘In 1921, as modernism slowly impinged on the consciousness of the intelligentsia, critics spoke enthusiastically about Sunayani’s simplicity and ‘artlessness’, her naïve work as a validation of the formal values of Bengali village art. Stella Kramrisch became Sunayani’s powerful champion, providing the first serious study of the artist, and discovering in Sunayani, much more than in Gaganendranath and Indian modernist after her own heart…. Kramrisch found Sunayani’s naïve paintings continuing the humble doll-carver’s craft and village women’s art… thus weaving for the Indian painter a seamless fabric of universal modernism, primitivism and artistic nationalism…. With Sunayani, she was on a firmer ground, and could happily construct the continuum of Indian art from ancient Ajanta to contemporary village art. Temporarily disrupted by colonialism, the thread was once again restored by this naïve modernist painter, an authentic child of the soil, untouched by colonial pedagogy.’ – The Triumph of Modernism in India, p-40-44.
[9] Syntax: the way in which words and phrases are put together to form sentences
[10] This is the English translation of the Bengali article from the above mentioned book Rupatapash Jamini Roy
[11] Line and Artist: An Assesment of JaminiRoy , edited by Prasanta Daw, 1999
[12] Sharif Atique-uz-zaman, Dosh Pathikrit Chitrashilpi, Sucheepatra, Dhaka, Bangladesh, February 2006, p-64-65. (Translation and stress added by the present writer).
[13] ibid
[14] Playfulness In Everyday Art: The Strategy of Survival, Saumik Nandy Majumdar, from art East: a contemporary art magazine, Volume-1, Issue-1, November 2015
[15] Quoted from an interview with Matisse by Charles Estinne, Matisse, New Line Books (1909)
[16] Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-garde 1922-1947, Oxford, 2007, p-119
[17] Von Leydon, Jamini Roy, p-17, (Stress added by the present writer).
[18] Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-garde 1922-1947, Oxford, 2007, p-120-122
[19] AMINI ROY: A collection of works from the Swaraj Art Archive, catalogue, 2015
[20] The Big and The Small, K G Subramyan from Bengal Art: New Perspectives, Prtikshan, January 2010, p-13
[21] Ibid, p-15, (Stress added by the present writer).
[23]JAMINI ROY: A collection of works from the Swaraj Art Archive, catalogue, 2015
[24] Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-garde 1922-1947, Oxford, 2007, p-117
[25] M F Hussain  at Riz Khan’s One on One, Television interview , ALJAZEERA
[26] Ritwik Ghatak, Cinema and I, Dhayanbindu, 2015, P-154, (Originally published in Movie Montage, Year I, Issue II, 1967, Interviewed by Suneet Sengupta, Translated by Dr. Chilka Ghosh.
[27] Jamini Roy: Tar Shilpochinta o Shilpokormo Bisoye Koyekti Dik ( Jamini Roy: Some aspects about his art perception and artworks), Bishnu Dey, Assa Prokasoni , Kolkata,1977.