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Jamini Roy: A True Rebel Artist

Jamini Roy despite becoming so famous, didn't forget his roots. He lived a modest life, concentrating only on his art.

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jamini Roy is one of the most popular Indian painters
  • He painted many paintings which represented Indian indigenous art
  • He still continues to inspire artists across masses

Jamini Roy was an Indian modernistic painter. He was born on 11 April 1887 and died on 24 April 1972 at the age of 85. Jamini Roy was born in a middle-class family in West Bengal.

Jamini Roy was one of the most pupil of Abindranath Tagore. Twitter
Jamini Roy was one of the most pupils of Abindranath Tagore. Twitter

At the age of 16, he went to study in Government College of Art, Kolkata. There, he became one of the most famous pupils of Abanindranath Tagore, whose contribution to the emergence of modern art in India is still remembered.

Roy trained in the classical western genre of art, which was prevailing at that time. However, he soon realised that it is Indian form of art he is attracted to.

Roy experiments with Indian Art Forms 

Jamini Roy started drawing inspiration from his own culture and started experimenting with folk art. He became so fascinated with the Kalighat style of painting that he started painting paintings in that style.

Kalighat paintings are mostly painted on mill-made paper vibrant natural dyes and brushes, they are believed to have originated in the vicinity of Kalighat Temple. These paintings depict Hindu deities, mythological characters, tribal life, and themes from everyday life.

Jamini Roy was inspired by Kalighat paintings. Wikimedia Commons
Jamini Roy was inspired by Kalighat paintings. Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by these paintings, Jamini Roy shifted his focus to Kalighat paintings. He gave up the canvas and started painting on material like cloth, wood etc. He also abandoned European colours in favour of natural dyes made of flowers, leaves, seeds, etc.

Roy’s painting style was bold, he used sweeping brushstrokes while painting and used only 7 bright and earthy colours in his palette which included – Indian red, yellow ochre, cadmium green, vermillion, grey, blue and white. He was inspired by the Kalighat style of painting but he added his own twist to it.

Many of Jamini Roy's paintings were inspired by his childhood. Wikimedia Commons
Many of Jamini Roy’s paintings were inspired by his childhood. Wikimedia Commons

Many of Roy’s paintings were inspired by his childhood, especially the famous, ‘Cat Series’. He also experimented by sculpting on wood, geometric shapes and parts of human anatomy.

The 1940s was the most popular for him. His works became prized possessions in both Indian and European households.

Also Read: Sacred Indian art is seen more as “Art” than as “Sacred” in the art market: Dr Donna Yates 

Jamini Roy and Fame

Jamini Roy despite becoming so famous, didn’t forget his roots. He lived a modest life, concentrating only on his art. He never sold any of his work for more than Rs. 350.

It is said, that if he felt that those who bought his artwork wouldn’t take care of it the way it should be taken care of, he would buy back his work from them.

Jamini Roy only knew his art and his art knew him too. This what makes all of his artworks so unique and marvellous.

Jamini Roy was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1955. His work was admired by everyone, even by the former Prime minister, Indira Gandhi.

Also Read: Indian art gaining worldwide recognition 

Jamini Roy left canvas to try other material. Wikimedia Commons
Jamini Roy left canvas to try other material. Wikimedia Commons

Jamini Roy is still a huge name in the world of Art. His paintings are still exhibited in exhibitions all over the world. He brought with himself a rebellion which continues to inspire artists to take up Indian indigenous art as their subject of study.

Jamini Roy will always be remembered as a pioneer artist who became a household name in India because of his exquisite painting style.

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