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Jamini Roy

Education -- Jamini Roy was born in 1887 into a moderately prosperous family of land-owners in a village Beliatore in the Bankura district, West Bengal.

When he was sixteen he was sent to study at the Government College of Art, Kolkata. Abanindranath Tagore, the founder of Bengal school was vice principal at the institution. He was taught to paint in the prevailing academic tradition drawing Classical nudes and painting in oils and in 1908 he received his Diploma in Fine Art.

However, he soon realised that he needed to draw inspiration, not from Western traditions, but from his own culture, and so he looked to the living folk and tribal art for inspiration. He was most influenced by the Kalighat Pat (Kalighat painting), which was a style of art with bold sweeping brush-strokes. Roy adopted the simplification of the forms, the bold, flat colours and the medium, material and themes of local folk paintings. He discarded expensive canvas and oil paint and opted for the more inexpensive material and medium of the folk artist. He rendered images from Ramayana and Krishna Lila. He painted ordinary men and women from the village, reinventing popular images from the patua's repertoire. His palette was restricted to seven colours- Indian red, yellow ochre, cadmium green, vermillion, grey, blue and white. These were mostly earthy or mineral colours.

The appropriation of folk idioms manifested in various ways. There was a phase in which he adopted the calligraphic brush lines of Kalighat Patuas to create sophisticated forms. The austerity of lines only serves to highlight Roy's superb control over brush. The lines drawn lyrically and sometimes even sensuously with lampblack over white or pale gray background show not only vigour, but also the poetry latent in the human form. His new style was a reaction against the Bengal School and Western tradition. His underlying quest was threefold: to capture the essence of simplicity embodied in the life of the folk people; to make art accessible to a wider section of people; and to give Indian art its own identity.

 Jamini Roy died in 1972.

 Awards and Honours -- Awarded honorary D. Litt., Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata in 1967;  Elected Fellow, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi in 1956; Awarded Padma Bhushan by Government of India in 1955; Awarded Viceroys Gold Medal for 'Mother Helping the Child to Cross the Pool' in 1935.