The Google doodle today honours Indian painter Jamini Roy on his 130th birth anniversary. Roy gave the world a new style of painting which was based on influences from Bengali folk art.
Roy was born on April 11, 1887 at Beliatore village of Bankura district in West Bengal. He studied painting at Government College of Art in Kolkata where Abanindranath Tagore, the founder of Bengal school, was vice principal. Roy trained in the classical western style but soon decided to turn to his roots and looked to folk and tribal art for inspiration. It is said he was most influenced by Kalighat Pat style with its bold sweeping brush-strokes.
Roy soon moved away from canvas and oil paint in favour of materials and medium used by folk artists. He painted everything from Ramayana and Krishna Lila to ordinary men and women in his new-found style. Interestingly, Roy limited his palette to Indian red, yellow ochre, cadmium green, vermillion, grey, blue and white, all of seven colours that were mostly earthy or mineral colours. His biggest success was in bringing the sensibilities of a trained painted to folk art.
Roy’s popularity was at an all-time high in the 1940s. He held exhibitions in London and New York and his works were prized possessions in Bengali and European households. Roy was awarded the Padma Bhusan in 1954. He passed away in 1972.
His 1946 work “Ramayana”, spread across 17 canvases, is considered his magnum opus. Commissioned by Sarada Charan Das, Roy finished this work in the Kalighat pata style with natural colours. His Ramayana begins with Valmiki and completes a full circle to end at the sage’s hermitage after Sita’s agnipariksha.