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The earliest Bengal School artists like Abanindranath Tagore and his disciple Nandalal Bose had been generally averse to pure abstraction. It was later generation painters like Gopal Ghosh and Gobardhan Ash who had brought abstraction to Indian scene. Gobardhan Ash was never much of commercial success yet he painted abstract figures much to the disapproval of the art lovers. Yet even Gobardhanís abstract works had been very limited.

                  work of Gobardhan Ash

One of the few surviving abstract works of painter Gobardhan Ash

Artists in those days painted not for the market but more for their own expressions. Thus abstract works were seldom exhibited. In the 70s Benode Bihari Mukherjee , a blind artist made quick sketches without removing the pen. This started a new trend of single line drawings which was later adopted by many other painters. The reason for abstract painting in Bengal had never been for mere expression of mood which had been so in Europe. Even today abstractionist like BR Panesar and others do not just make abstracts for the sake of expressing some vague idea of the mind but more to express something more solid.


Ganesh Haloi

  A modern day Abstract work of artist Ganesh Haloi








          Though it is normally thought that realism is the oldest form of art, it is big misnomer. In fact abstraction is probably older than realism. In actuality abstraction is nothing but representing only certain aspects of reality. This simplification when taken to an extreme level where the art does not resemble nature in any manner, do we get pure abstraction. Like pure realism, pure abstraction is also impossible to make.

        Thus we see a range of artists who are termed as abstractionists, semi-abstractionists and even semi-realists. Jogen Chodhuri 's distortion of lines are also forms of abstraction. Devajyoti Rayís Pseudorealism which tends to use offbeat colours is also an abstraction in usage of colour scheme.


Jogen Chowdhury


Devajyoti Ray

 Abstract line work of Jogen Choudhuri

 Abstract Colour-scheme in Devajyoti Ray's art-work


       Nevertheless, there are some artists who cannot be categorized into any other category but abstractionists. These include predominantly BR Panesar and Chittrovanu Majumdar. BR Panesarís abstractions in collages and oil lead the viewer to a guided tour into a scene where everything is abstract and yet on pondering, everything becomes clear. Chittrovanu Majumdar on the other hand paints pure abstracts amenable to interpretations by the viewer.


BR Panesar


Chittravanu Majumdar

  BR Panesar' Abstract work in Acrylic

 Chittrobhanu Majumdar, one of the newer generation Abstract artists


         Among the semi abstractionists the best known of Bengal painters is probably Paritosh Sen . His works inspired by Cubist works of Picasso do not look cubist but leans more towards abstraction.

          Abstraction as a form of art had been in existence since the time of the Bengal School . But it was predominantly the Rebel Art Centre artists like Gobardhan Ash who had taken abstraction in  a big way. Of late, younger artists in Bengal are also showing leanings towards American Pop Abstarcts like that of Jackson Pollock. They are using applique, collages and installations in the abstract format. But very few such artists have shown much consistency and strength.



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