Ganesh Pyne

The Blue Herb | Mumbai | tempera on canvas laid on card | 43.2 x 58.4 cm.

“He is a pilgrim in the dominion of shadows, piloting his course through a darkness burnished by a melancholy light.”

Ranjit Hoskote, poet, critic, cultural theorist

Ganesh Pyne was initially influenced by Abindranath and Gagendranath Tagore, of the Bengal school, and is well regarded for his meticulous draughtsmanship and delicate handling of pigment. His early career was characterized by aesthetically pleasing watercolors; over time, however, his style evolved away from that towards a more modernist approach. It also got several shades darker. 

Like a lot of modernist painters, his work often probed the deeper reaches of human experience. There is a distinct sadness to much of it. His brooding dreamscapes, populated with skeletal figures and recurring images of boats and groundless, floating bodies are intimations of decay and impermanence. They are also beautiful—reflecting a personal mythology steeped in existentialism and wonder. As he once said, “True darkness gives one a feeling of insecurity bordering on fear but it also has its own charms, mystery, profundity, a fairyland atmosphere.”

Pyne was born in Kolkata, where he stayed to study at the Government College of Arts and Crafts. His first solo exhibition wasn’t held until 1990, in New Delhi, but he exhibited throughout his life in numerous group shows around the world, in cities from Kolkata to London. He has represented India at the Paris Biennale and at the Festival Internationale de la peinture, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. Pyne lived and worked in Kolkata until he passed away in 2013.

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Works by Ganesh Pyne

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  • Sonal Singh
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