NANDALAL BOSE (1882 - 1966)
Nandalal Basu (3 December 1882 - 16 April 1966) was one of the pioneers of modern Indian art and a key figure of Contextual Modernism.
A pupil of Abanindranath Tagore, Bose was known for his "Indian style" of painting. He became the principal of Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan in 1922. He was influenced by the Tagore family and the murals of Ajanta; his classic works include paintings of scenes from Indian mythologies, women, and village life.
Today, many critics consider his paintings among India's most important modern paintings. In 1976, the Archaeological Survey of India, Department of Culture, Govt. of India declared his works among the "nine artists" whose work, "not being antiquities", were to be henceforth considered "to be art treasures, having regard to their artistic and aesthetic value".
The Indian Society of Oriental Art organized an art exhibition and Nandalal saw it as an opportunity to exhibit his talent. In the exhibition, he showcased two of his works, namely ‘Siva and Sati’ and ‘Sati’. Impressed with his talent, the association gave him 500 rupees as cash prize, which he used for visiting different parts of India. During his tour, he was inspired by the different landscapes and depicted them on his canvasses. He also sold many of his paintings for as little as 25 paise. In 1930, he created the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi, after being inspired by his protest against the imposition of tax on salt by the British. The portrait went on to become a symbol of non-violence movement.
Later in his life, he was entrusted with some important government assignments. Firstly, he was asked to decorate the manuscript of the Constitution of India, which he did brilliantly and then he was assigned a job by the Prime Minister of India himself. The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru asked him to design the emblems of prestigious government awards, such as Bharat Ratna and Padma Shri.
He created more than 7000 portrays during the course of his illustrious career. Today, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi houses most of those paintings. He was also one of the leading lights for the renaissance of art in India. When Rabindranath Tagore founded the Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan, he invited Nandalal to join in. Nandalal Bose served as the principal at Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan between 1922 and 1951. He also received an offer from the Government Art School to join in as one of the staff members. However, he declined the same and instead, started helping Abanindranath in preparing a catalogue of his artworks in his home. Nandalal Bose also received great moral support from Sister Nivedita. In fact, she was the one who encouraged Nandalal to come up with paintings of Ajanta Frescoes, which went on to become one of his finest works.