Ganesh Pyne, India’s foremost contemporary painter unflinchingly admits the deep influence of Abanindranath Tagore in his works. But he also claims that his exposure to Walt Disney’s cartoons and his own experience as a young animator, in Calcutta finally gave him the creative liberty to be true to the native artist in him.
He was born in Calcutta in 1937 and from a very young age Pyne began sketching and doodling. After finishing school, he joined the Government College of Art & Craft in Calcutta. He graduated in 1959.
In his early years as a commercial artist, Pyne was greatly influenced by the brothers Abanindranath and Gaganendranath Tagore. His watercolors reflected the same hues that these painters had made their own. The typical use of fantastical creatures to explore the deep recesses of his imagination was inspired by the provocative style of these very painters.
Ganesh Pyne’s Paintings
Ganesh Pyne as an artist has dabbled with various media. Be it watercolors or gouache, this master is equally adept in all painting styles. From watercolor in his initial phase as an artist, Pyne turned to gouache and then tempera since the mid-'60s. And from this very period one can see a distinct paradigm shift in his paintings. Most of the human figures were skeletal while animal showed their fangs and claws. His subjects were either hunters or prey. A suffocating darkness dominated his canvases. There were certain recurrent motifs like boats, bits of bone, wood and other debris, dark doors and windows, birdman, Chaitanya, the leader of the Bhakti movements, animals, daggers, and so on.
Ganesh Pyne’s Themes
Ganesh Pyne mostly draws inspiration from Bengal’s rich storehouse of folklore and mythology. His paintings seem to be imaginative depictions of the stories every Bengali Grandma tells her grandchildren in sultry summer afternoons. He deftly blends the romanticism and fantasy of these folklores with to create a world of ‘poetic surrealism’. Most people say that, Pyne’s paintings should be savored slowly and at leisure. Anyone who has experienced them will tell you that one doesn’t need to make an effort to do so; the brilliance of the composition ensures that the viewer is transfixed for hours.
CIMA (Centre of International Modern Art) describes Ganesh Pyne as “an artist’s artist, a philosopher’s philosopher and master fantasist of them all’.