PROPERTY OF AN IMPORTANT COLLECTOR
Oil on canvas
48 3/8 x 64 1/4 in. (123 x 163 cm.)
Signed and dated 'Bikash '95' lower right
Bikash Bhattacharjee's paintings straddle the genres of realism, naturalism and surrealism. Through his paintings, he depicts the life of average middle-class Bengalis; their aspirations, superstitions, hypocrisies and realities. His ability to juxtapose the real with the unreal, combined with his mastery over light, creates a world of haunting and hypnotic imagery infused with a transcendental glow. Bhattacharjee's genius lay in his adeptness in capturing a fleeting moment on his canvas for posterity. He 'is the painter of a moment, a mood, a feeling. He is the camera eye. A certain angle or a point of time, fleeting in its very nature, struggles to be transported into the realms of the timeless.' (Ella Datta, 'A Mood, A Moment, A Feeling', Bikash Bhattacharjee, exhibition catalogue, Galerie 88, Kolkata, 1993, unpaginated)
A woman glancing backwards is a favoured protagonist for the artist, appearing frequently in various avatars. In the current work, a strikingly beautiful woman wearing a simple bright blue sari is shown returning from a temple darshan; puja thali in hand and a prominent red tilak on her forehead. She looks over her shoulder and the artist has captured her glowing skin and almond-shaped, kohl-rimmed eyes. She stands amidst a grove of lush banana trees, their broad, green leaves offsetting her peaceful elegance and striking demeanour.
The theme of a maiden standing beneath a banana tree and leaning on it for support was a popular subject with Pahari school artists of the 18th and 19th centuries. The scene as a whole was meant to symbolise Vipralambha Shringara or 'love in absence'. Whilst the current scene was probably inspired by the artist's own experiences, he may well be making a reference to Indian art historical traditions.
Women, in general, formed a consistent part of his artistic vocabulary. 'Bikash seems to paint an 'universal' woman, almost a feminine essence: 'I paint this lady, she is neither my wife, nor my daughter, she is no one in particular. I created this lady. Over the years her complexion has altered from the pale skins of the women in the Sovabazar rajbari to the darkness of the Santal woman.' (The artist interviewed by Shubhani Sarkar and Rudrani Sarkar in August 1999, Bikash 2000, exhibition catalogue, CIMA Gallery, Kolkata, 2000, unpaginated)
About The Artist:
BIKASH BHATTACHARJEE (1940-2006)