FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Ramkinkar’s People Live Again
Updated:Sep 15, 2012
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Geeta doctor

Book: Ramkinkar and his Work

Author: K.G. Subramanyan

Publisher: NGMA

Pages: 102 + plates

Book: My Days with Ramkinkar Baij

Authors: Somendranath Bandyopadhyay Bhaswati Ghosh (tr.)

Pages: 316 + plates,

Publisher: Niyogi Books/NGMA

Price: Rs 2,995

You see them all the time, the invisible people who migrate in small groups carrying their belongings on their heads. Indentured labour, families seeking a better life in the cities, cutting through mountains, building dams, creating enclaves of industrial productivity. They are Ramkinkar’s people. The most famous of them, ‘The Santhal Family’, is an epic piece of work created and installed at Santiniketan in 1938.

They have been brought back to life in the three books under review, memorialising the work and personality of Ramkinkar Baij (1906-1980). He was known as Kinkarda to all those who worked and lived in Santiniketan, colleagues and devoted students. Under the aegis of NGMA Director Rajeev Lochan, K.S. Radhakrishnan, himself a highly successful sculptor, has curated a retrospective exhibition of Ramkinkar’s Baij’s works at the NGMAs at New Delhi and Bangalore.

But it’s in Somendranath Bandhyopadhyay’s monumental enterprise (superbly translated from the Bengali by Bhaswati Ghosh) that we can listen to Kinkarda’s distinctive voice and peer over his shoulder, as it were, to catch a glimpse of both the sheer joy and the intense struggle of a creative spirit who has been recognised as the father of modern Indian sculpture.

He would have laughed at such a pompous title. For what comes through in the accounts of all three authors is that Kinkarda retained the unpremeditated vitality of his upbringing as a village boy from Bankura, who never stopped referring to himself as a ‘tribal’. For him, even Krishna was a tribal boy appropriated by the Aryan gods.

When he was conferred the Padma Bhushan, he sat quietly for a while as the ceremony was conducted with due solemnity. Then, as Bandyopadhyay describes it, he suddenly announced that he wanted to sing. Much to the discomfiture of all present, he launched into a completely uninhibited and at times incoherent monologue of song and poetry in the manner of the Baul singers who, he declaimed, were at their best when raising their voices in appeal to the spirits of the earth, wind and air. The organisers left the venue.

K.G. Subramanyan describes his method of working: “Even the earliest drawings of his that I have seen, done in pencil and crayon, had a rhythmic vitality all their own. Being the intuitive kind of artist, his response to things was immediate; he fell upon them like a beast on its prey. This figure of speech is his own or, as he used to say, Rabindranath’s, who had once impressed upon him the necessity of dealing with a work in hand with such single-minded aggression. The results were closely structured rhythmic images.” His drawings, watercolours and portraits are nonetheless full of delicate textural effects.

Ramachandran describes his methods even more vividly, describing how he would throw himself into the armature or skeleton of a work and claw it into shape with his bare hands. He worked with the most basic materials, since there was hardly any choice in those days. As he says (to Bandhyopadhyay), “Since I had no choice. I began with just clay. Clay, cowdung and tar. Later, from that clay itself I took other ingredients such as Birbhum’s sand and pebbles; whatever was available free of cost. To that I added some cement and iron. Back then, good cement cost four-five rupees a sack.”

‘Santhal Family’ and all the successive works made after he started teaching were done in concrete. As he goes on to reflect, even concrete degenerates with time. For ‘Santhal Family’, he had used pebbles with the concrete, creating a textured effect that was both like a coating of rough cowdung and the branches of local thorny shrubs.

It is engaging to learn how closely the other great artists of that time watched the progress of a particular piece of work. Kinkarda happened to be working on ‘Santhal Family’ when a stray comment by Mastermoshai, as Nandalal Bose was addressed, inspired him to turn the head of the male figure in such a way that the movement of the group became charged with the energy that he wanted to create.

“He would often explain to me that every art form, whether painting or sculpture, had a focal point like the central character in a story,” writes Ramachandran. “That is why in most of Kinkarda’s paintings and watercolours, one finds the background, tree or sky almost closing around the central figure. This is best exemplified in the painting, ‘Woman Bathing in a Pond with Palm Trees’. Like his teacher Nandalal, Kinkarda believed that the ultimate aim of an artist was to capture the life rhythm of the image, which could be done through a few minimal strokes rather than excessive usage.”

Then again, we must add that the central character in the canvas of Santiniketan around which the artistic community worked with verve and passion was of course Rabindranath Tagore himself. Kinkarda was a tribal Krishna adding his own unique lustre.

Geeta Doctor is a writer in Chennai

Indian Express, 15 September 2012

 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
India is not participating in the conference on negotiations for a total ban on nuclear weapons. India was expected later this week to issue a comprehensive statement at the United Nations laying out its stance on the meeting that is officially called the Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons,
 
read-more
Therefore, there is an urgent need for the Modi government to re-define its “Make in India” policy so that India can beat China in its own game and get rid of perennial trade deficits writes Susmit Kumar
 
read-more
 India should not hesitate in using both overt and covert means to bring its policies to successful fruition. Indian policy makers must be guided by the dictum that there is no permanent friend or enemy but only permanent interests, writes Adarsh Singh for South Asia Monitor.
 
read-more
Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre invites you to a lecture in the Changing Asia Series by by Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India on Health And Development: India Must Bridge The Disconnect Chair: C Uday Bhaskar, Director, Soci...
 
read-more
spotlight image Shaida Mohammad Abdali is the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to India since 2012 and the non-resident  Afghan Ambassador to Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal.
 
read-more
In Dutch politics, alliances are imperative to construct an administration. The post-election government formation is, therefore, a slightly time-consuming process. In due course, a coalition led by the incumbent Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, will surface.  
 
read-more
Japan is a special country in several ways. For centuries, it remained isolated and disconnected with the outside world. But once it opened itself up to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854 by the use of force by Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry of the United States Navy, Japan has never looked back. Japan is a spe
 
read-more
Recently, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and earlier under the late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdallah bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia has rolled out a series of women-friendly initiatives.  Recently, under the leadership of Custodian of the
 
read-more
spotlight image It is time for India to undertake a comprehensive review of its nuclear doctrine and kill the unnecessary speculation
 
read-more
Column-image

Over the Years, a collection of 106 short articles, offers us interesting sidelights on the currents and cross- currents in the public life of India during two distinctive periods: (I) 1987 to 1991 and (II ) 2010 to the present.

 
Column-image

India remians the inflexible bête-noir for Pakistan, yet there are few books by Indian authors that have sought to interpret the prodigal neighbour in a holistic, informed and empathetic manner.

 
Column-image

The line that Mortimer Durand drew across a small map in 1893 has bled the Pashtun heart ever since. More than a century later both sides of that line remain restless. But the mystery behind what actually happened on 12 November 1893 has never ...

 
Column-image

What went wrong for the West in Afghanistan? Why couldn't a global coalition led by the world's preeminent military and economic power defeat "a bunch of farmers in plastic sandals on dirt bikes" in a conflict that outlasted b...

 
Column-image

What will be Pakistan's fate? Acts of commission or omission by itself, in/by neighbours, and superpowers far and near have led the nuclear-armed country at a strategic Asian crossroads to emerge as a serious regional and global concern whi...

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive