Ramkinkar Baij

1906 - 1980

Died in Jugipara, West Bengal (India), born in Bankura, West Bengal (India).

Ramkinkar Baij, known as the father of modern Indian sculpture, trained and later taught at Rabindranath Tagore’s university in Santiniketan, West Bengal. He came to prominence in the 1930s with his epic public sculptures that can still be seen dotted around the university campus and he also worked as a prolific painter and draughtsman. Ramkinkar has been described as a revolutionary artist and one who helped to develop a modernist vocabulary by synthesizing materials, forms and ideas from India and the West and by bringing them together with a creative energy and constant willingness to experiment. He is famous for portraying the lives of ordinary people such as tribals, agricultural labourers and factory workers with a sympathy that came from his own humble origins and showing them as heroic in the face of adversity.

Baij has been described by Indian art historian Geeta Kapur, as an ‘undoctrinaire anarchist’ and a ‘virtual revolutionary’ who made important breakthroughs in developing a modernist vocabulary. His practice was connective and synthesized in an unselfconscious way, materials, forms and ideas from diverse sources bringing them together in works which have their own centre of gravity. Santhal Family articulates a communitarian outlook and portrays subaltern identity and social conditions at ground level. It is felt as a gesture that embodies the continuum of lived experiences captured in solid form. Its social realist connotations come without a state imperative and instead emerge from the artist’s organic connection to the social which is linked in his work to an avant - garde concern with form.

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