Photo Gallery – Bengali household name Jamini Roy’s paintings

November 27, 2014

In the 1960s, historian Geeti Sen visited Indian artist Jamini Roy’s workshop in what was then Calcutta to buy a painting for her father. Although she eventually picked up a Gopal Ghose, what struck her most about Roy was his accessibility.

“He said, ‘Do you want to buy a painting for 100 rupees or 300 rupees or 700 rupees?’ So I looked at him and I said ‘That’s very interesting’. You first tell the artist how much you want to pay and then he would find the right kind of pictures for you,” said Sen, who was fresh out of college then.

“So this also answers the question about why he is so popular because he didn’t want to make his work inaccessible.”

Born in 1887 in a small village in West Bengal’s Bankura district, Roy joined Calcutta’s Government School of Art in the early 20th century.

Working as a portrait artist made him disillusioned with European art. In his quest for an Indian identity, he rebelled against the British academic training and took to the local, folk idiom. His rebellion coincided with a wave of nationalism in Bengal against the British, who left India in 1947.

Broad brush strokes, simple forms, stretched eyes, decorative borders and use of flat colours are the dominant motifs in “Jamini Roy”, an exhibition of the artist’s works being displayed in Delhi, which runs till January 6, 2015.

His modern, experimental works are mounted along with two landscape paintings that reflect his education in Western art. The juxtaposition of the two styles of paintings marks a clear shift in his repertoire.

“He went on to become one of the most celebrated modernists in the history of Indian painting,” according to Akar Prakar Art Advisory, the gallery which is running the exhibition.

Many of his paintings are anything but intricate or abstract. They are imbued with a quality that does not need an expert to appreciate. Little wonder then the Bengal-born modernist is a household name and his paintings a common sight in homes.

He also experimented with Kalighat painting, a style of art that emerged from the eponymous pilgrimage centre in British Calcutta.















“The rounded curves of the naika are local Bengali idiom of Kalighat painting. And otherwise, he used flat colours, which were also his own invention. So there was no perspective at all and there was a lot of patterning, which comes from folk art,” Geeti Sen said.

He also switched to indigenous materials like woven mats, cloth and wood coated with lime. While Hindu god Krishna is often seen in his works, Roy also painted Jesus with his mother Mary in his defining style.

(Editing by David Lalmalsawma; Follow Ankush Arora on Twitter @Ankush_patrakar | This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

One comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Wonderful article. Even though I am not Bengali but growing up in Calcutta necessarily involved growing up with the mesmerizing art work of Jamini Roy.An average Calcuttan’s love and appreciation of art starts with exposure to Roy’s work. Difficult to express what Jamini Roy is to the people who grew up in Bengal.
Wonderful work.

Posted by Soham97 | Report as abusive