Rediscovering women on canvas

The online exhibition, titled ‘Feminine Facets’ by six celebrated modern artists from Bengal, features women in all their glory

With the playfulness and delicacy typical of works in small-format, this exhibition features images of women, mostly faces, done by six widely known and celebrated modern artists from Bengal.

Titled ‘Feminine Facets’, the online group show features KG Subramanyan, Rabin Mondal, Jogen Chowdhury, Lalu Prasad Shaw, Ramananda Bandyopadhyay, and Arunima Choudhury. The small format work not only attracts wider audiences but is also preferred by many of these artists given the eloquence, freedom and informality it allows them to enjoy.

The images of women dominate the oeuvre of each of the artists. But they do not share the same outlook in depicting them in their work. The two works by Jogen Chowdhury in the exhibition show his trademark brush and ink style, the calligraphic rhythm which captures the organic elegance of the female form.

Artist Rabin Mondal’s work titled ‘Two Faces’

Ramananda Bandyopadhyay is also known for his mastery of lines. His powerful drawings, enhanced by the touches of colours, combine the elegance of classical art with the simplicity and rustic innocence of the folk art of Bengal. The two portraits by Lalu Prasad Shaw are dissimilar both in style and mood.

The woman with a mirror in hand seems to have emerged straight from one of his famous “Babu-Bibi” paintings, which speaks of the quintessential emotions and sentiments of the married, middle-class Bengali couple. The scent of regionalism is not so strongly felt in the work of KG Subramanyan and Rabin Mondal.

While Subramanyan represents women, as he does men and animals, as an integral part of his complex narrative vision, Rabin Modal is more interested in the bold, iconic, unsophisticated and primitivistic forms. Only female painter of the show, Arunima Choudhury works meticulously using botanical colours on handmade papers which she makes herself with utmost care and patience. The organic medium gives a unique palpability and tenderness to her portrayal of women.

The exhibition is an invitation to explore how the artists imagined women, not so much as a model, but as a matrix to capture the wide range of aesthetic sensibilities that course through our body and society.

The exhibition can be viewed on the website of Emami Art till July 31

(Cover image: Artist Lalu Prasad Shaw’s Woman With Butterflies)

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