The National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore celebrates the life and times of Ramkinkar Baij, one of India’s seminal modern artists.

Ramkinkar Baij: A Retrospective walks one through a comprehensive collection of his paintings and sculptures and is curated by sculptor K. S. Radhakrishnan, a student of the remarkably rebellious artist.

Ramkinkar Baij was an intense chronicler of his surroundings. From portraits of animals and people to representations of the significant and the insignificant, he explored the poetic elements of life through his art. Radhakrishnan says, “Despite being detached, in his own way he was an interventionist; he intervened in the micro lives around him, seeking pleasure through proximity to all that was organic and inorganic. This was a way of being attached and detached at the same time.”

Notable about Baij’s works of art is his rebellion against himself. He challenged and renewed himself constantly by questioning existing structures within and outside of himself. Although acutely aware of the modernist experiments happening in Europe and elsewhere, he remained true to his own approach. His works were stylistically opposed to the fundamental styles, rules and philosophies of the existing traditions while also rejecting nothing that appeared as established in the world of art or in life.

Baij did not promote social causes, but was always connected to the social reality around him. His beginnings were humble, but as early as in his 30s he rose to becoming a respected artist. His paintings are clever from the point of view that they point to philosophical truths through obvious realities. Baij is known as a master of irony.

The retrospective mounts more than 350 works — paintings, drawings, graphics and sculptures — covering some six decades of his artistic journey. The exposition is also enhanced by diverse media interventions such as photographic blow-ups, digital prints, texts and video clips in an attempt to contextualise the man and the artist.

Bottomline: Art steeped in European modernism yet rooted in the Indian ethos.

Ramkinkar Baij: A Retrospective

Where: National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore

When: Till August 14

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