Imported Plant | New York, Rockefeller Plaza | oil on canvas | 102 x 107 cm |
- Born 1940; Died, 2006
- Collected by Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, Mass.), Lalit Kala Akademi (New Delhi), Ministry of Education (New Delhi), Bharat Bhavan (Bhopal, India) the National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi)
- Related artists Magritte, Dali, Max Ernst, Paul Delvaux, Giorgio de Chirico
“Through the ages, the image of woman has remained enslaved in a gilded frame of ‘Ardha-Nareshwari,’ half man, half woman. In the Bikash woman, the daring third dimension has emerged.”
Painter Bikash Bhattacharjee is one of India’s most widely acclaimed painters. He was a realist in technique who used the traditions of Titian and Velasquez in unexpected, often highly symbolic, unsettling and surrealistic ways. As the critic Manasij Majumder writes, Bhattacharjee “accepted the challenge of transforming his consummate skill to evoke the subtleties of surface realism into a pliant tool of creativity without dismantling the received art forms.”
He also, like many of his contemporaries, “eschewed any ideological loyalty to an imagined Indian identity in art,” as Majumder writes. A member of the Society of Contemporary Artists—alongside other transformational artists like Somnath Hore and Ganesh Pyne—he made art that was an instrument of aesthetic and social critique; in his prime, his paintings were a window into the struggles of poverty and socioeconomic unrest that surrounded him.
Bhattacharjee began showing his work in 1965, and was the subject of dozens of solo exhibitions and dozens more group shows worldwide. He received numerous awards along the way, by institutions including the Academy of Fine Art, Kolkata, in 1962; the Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata, in 1971, and the Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi, which bestowed on him its National Award in 1971 and 1972. In 1988 he was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards given by the Indian government.
He was born and raised in Kolkata and he died in Kolkata. He graduated from the Indian College of Arts and Draftsmanship there in 1963. Throughout his life, he was as invested in the future of his craft and his community as he was in his own work, having taught at his alma mater from 1968-1972, and at the Government.