Wednesday, 15 July 2015 09:00

Europe gets to see Jamini Roy- the Indian "Matisse"

The owner of the largest known private collection of 70 odd Jamini Roy paintings, Dr Nirmalya Kumar has lent his extraordinary paintings for an exhibition for the first ever show at the prestigious Museo ​elle Culture, Lugano Switzerland. The exhibition titled "Jamini Roy. From Tradition to Modernity" opened on the 13th of July and will continue till 23rd August 2015. The show has been curated by one of Europe's leading curators Caterina Corni, with the cooperation of Alessia Borellini. As single collector museum shows are rare, this invitation is a special honour for Dr Kumar.

Dr Kumar is Professor of Marketing at the London Business School and Member of Group Executive Council Tata Sons. He has served on the South Asian Acquisition Committee of Tate Modern. The works of Jamini Roy held by international critics as the Indian "Matisse" for his works inspired by both traditional Indian art and the contemporary Western avant-garde.

The collection is considered to be the largest ever outside India and includes the artist's entire body of work, from his earliest sketches in the 1920s to the final canvasses at the end of the 1960s.

Dr Kumar, who has been studying Jamini Roy for over a decade, bought these works and exhibited them to the public with the intent of safeguarding the distinctive features of an ancient tradition while contributing to the promotion of Indian contemporary art to both the experts and the international public. These works loaned to the Museum are displayed at his London apartment as his most coveted private collection.

"My greatest hope is that this show will introduce non-Indians to modern Indian Art and JaminiRoy. This should lead to an understanding that the art world and culture moves both in a connected and a parallel manner. The exhibition at the Museo delle Culture should contribute to the understanding that the history of civilisation runs in parallel across many different places. Jamini Roy’s work will help the audience reflect on the need to consider multicentrism of art and creativity in the world. There is wonderful work and a huge heritage everywhere waiting to be discovered by others, especially the West", says Dr Kumar 

The future of the museum and the private collectors:

With the "Jamini Roy. From Tradition to Modernity. The Kumar Collection" exhibition, the Museum of Cultures in Lugano reinforces its vocation as a centre that produces and endorses private collections of international significance through original exhibition initiatives so that they can be held at other museums. The Museum of Cultures in Lugano has become a point reference for major collectors who increasingly choose to have the masterpieces in their collections cataloged, critically appraised and launched for the first time into the world for previewing.

 

The exhibition in Lugano, therefore, is the first stop on a tour that will include Turin, Paris, Venice, Zurich and Copenhagen. Director, Francesco Paolo Campione, has this to say about the future of the museum and its relationship with collectors,"This exhibition dedicated to Jamini Roy is an important step in the path we have set out on: while being a cultural institution conceived along traditional lines, our museum is increasingly distinguishing itself as a centre for the creation of exhibition projects that are subsequently hosted at major international museums. Our relationship with collectors is strategic to this evolution, and is based on the creation of value for the museum as well as for its private partners."

The exhibition comprises of 70 masterpieces (oil on canvas, tempera on paper, gouache on paper and linen) produced by the artist during the course of his career and accompanied by around 30 sculptures in wood from the XVII-XIX century depicting the protagonists of Hindu mythology and folklore, which have been sourced from the museum's own estate and other institutions. The exhibition itinerary is enriched by a selection of photographs from "India Minor", the renowned photographic report in 1939 by Walter Bosshard (1892-1975), the photographer to whom we the owe the invention and propagation of the "icon", Mahatma Gandhi.

The Artist

Jamini Roy was born on the 15th of April 1887, in Beliatore, a village in Bengal, 180 km from Calcutta. His destiny as an artist was sealed by his enrollment, at only 16 years of age, at the Government College of Art and Craft of Calcutta, under the guidance of the enlightened English art historian Binfield Havell (1861-1934) and Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951). The latter was a distinguished figure in the birth and development of the movement known as the Bengal School; a current uniting a profound awareness of the value of Indian culture with the artistic language of western art. In a climate of great creative ferment, Jamini Roy thus set out on a training path that would evolve into his own artistic form and distinctive style, leading him to become world famous and one of the most renowned and acclaimed artists in India.

Jamini Roy's early works, imbued as they are with the European avant-garde, interact in an ideological sense with the differences in artistic languages of ancient Indian art. They show a continuous evolution in terms of technique, distinguished by simplicity, essential lines and the use of materials and supporting structures that are more and more in harmony with nature. Jamini Roy died in Calcutta on 14th April 1972 at the age of 85.

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