Pyne and Shaw-Two artistic takes to Bengal modernism

Friday, Feb 5, 2016,15:36 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | Noted artist Ganesh Pyne’s frenzied graph paper jottings, juxtaposed with his contemporary Lalu Prasad Shaw’s portraits of the quintessential Bengali babu, capture the creative impulse of the two masters who shaped the course of Bengal modernism through their art.

Both artists are dimensionally opposite despite being of the same age and having trained at the same Government Arts College in Kolkata according to Rakhi Sarkar who has curated an exhibition here of works by the duo.

33 artworks of Pyne, who died in 2013, along with 23 by the 78-year-old Lalu Prasad Shaw are displayed at the show titled, Ganesh Pyne & Lalu Prasad Shaw: Two Faces of Bengal Modernism brought by Kolkata-based CIMA Gallery to the Visual Arts Gallery at the India Habitat Centre in the city.

The horrors of the 1946 Calcutta riots to which Pyne was exposed as a child, come alive in his wiry black lines and tearing scribbles that sear the paper with cross-hatchings, deletions and the repeated retracing of outlines.

According to critic Rita Datta, the artist’s state of mind and his intellectual engagements can be visualised in these ‘Jottings,’ in the way he notes down well-known or interesting quotations or pens his comments or reflections.

The chaotic intensity that Pyne’s ‘Jottings’ scribbled with quotes by Russian film-maker Tarkovsky or a couplet by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in the margins, make it evident that they were never meant for the public.

These jottings give the viewers an opportunity to snoop around the hitherto unreachable recesses of the artist’s mind. She points out the intense, unscripted struggle between the man and the artist, between his thoughts and feelings and their communicable expression.

They reveal the very private niche in his mind where emotions, thoughts, memories flicker incipiently and gestate obsessively, seeking expression in imagery says Datta. Curator Sarkar says the formative years of the artists were instrumental in shaping the trajectory of their works.

While Shaw grew up in the rural country side in Bengal and came to Kolkata in his late teens. Pyne spent all his life in North Kolkata in a house with multiple corridors in the corners of which he would often find retreat.