Jamini Roy

by Hema Guha


A totally original Indian artist, who developed an idiom that was not based on any “-ism”. He derived inspiration and themes from the folk tradition of India, specially the Bengal Kaligat pathchitras and rural pats. Born in 1877 in a feudal family in the Bankura district of West Bengal, he graduated from the Government Art School in Calcutta, where he developed technical virtuosity in painting portraits and landscapes and had a successful career as a commissioned artist. However, restful and dissatisfied with what he was doing, at the age of 34 he gave up his flourishing career, went back to his native village and completely devoted himself to the local tradition he had grown up with; the terracotta toys, pats and alpana (auspicious patterns, drawn on the floor at the entrance of a house). Got involved in the freedom movement against colonialism, which coincided with his search to find his indigenous roots. Portrayed subjects very near to his surroundings. In the way Jamini Roy arranges his figures in a linear manner, there is an element of similarity to Egyptian drawings, but the eyes of his figures are made very prominent. Became a very famous painter, popular also in Europe. In 1961 was made a Fellow of the Lalit Kala Academy. Died in 1972 at the age of 85.