Jamini Roy King of Asian Art

Born on April 11, in the year 1887, Jamini Roy was born in Beliatore village of the Bankura district in West Bengal. He left his village and moved to Kolkata to study at the Government College of Art there and received his Diploma in Fine Arts in the year 1908. He started painting in the Western classical style, but soon realised that his passion lies in another form of art.

In the year 1925, Jamini found his true calling when he carefully observed the Kalighat paintings outside a temple. He was thoroughly mesmerised by it. He realised that this style of painting could bring back the glory of the Indian art form. And so he aimed at capturing the essence of the simplicity that is embodied in the everyday life of people and wanted to make art easily accessible to one and all. To better his skills, he had also undergone training by Patua – a community known for their traditional occupation, which was painting idols. From then on, his paintings reflected the Kalighat style of art. His artworks were not just limited to paintings, but even his wooden sculptures spoke volumes of the traditional art form of Bengal. In the year 1938, Jamini’s artworks became the first among Indian paintings to be displayed at a British-dominated street in Kolkata. Even the European community started showing their interest in his art works and began to purchase his paintings. As the years passed by, Jamini Roy’s works gained a lot of popularity and began to be exhibited at prestigious shows in London (1946) and New York (1953). His art works have been displayed in various other international exhibitions and were found in many private and public collections such as the Vitoria and Albert Museum in London.

Jamini Roy created a lot of master pieces during his lifetime, but a few of his artworks that were very famous and deserve a mention include the Ramayana – a magnum opus that is spread across 17 canvases, Bengali Woman, Three Men in a Boat, Gopini and Two Companions, and Mother and Child.

He received the Viceroy’s gold medal in the year 1934 at an all-India exhibition. In the year 1954, Jamini Roy was conferred with Padma Bhushan by the Government of India. In 1955, he was made the first Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi, India’s National Academy of Art, Government of India – it is the highest honour in the field of fine arts. In the year 1976, the Archaeological Survey of India declared him as one of the ‘Nine Masters’ to be treated as a treasure. And in the year 2017, on April 11 (his birth date), Google India dedicated a Google Doodle to celebrate Jamini Roy’s 130th birth anniversary.      - Zainab