Born in 1937 in Kolkata, Ganesh Pyne is one of the most noted contemporary artists of the Bengal School of Art. Known for his ‘poetic surrealistic’ style, he often depicted fantastical and dark imagery in his work. Pyne was deeply affected by the communal riots in Kolkata in 1946, when his family was forced out of their crumbling mansion and taken to a safe zone. The trauma he faced and the horrors he saw on the streets at the tender age 9, had a lasting impact on his life and work. His experiences of pain, horror and solitude shaped his signature style, and Pyne painted motifs related to death throughout his career.
Ganesh Pyne had a deep relationship with Kolkata, or Calcutta, where he spent a lot of time discussing communism and Picasso with friends. His childhood was filled with mythological stories and fairy tales narrated by his grandmother. While his family was not supportive of his interest in pursuing art, he enrolled at, and graduated from the Government College of Arts & Crafts Kolkata in 1959.
Ganesh Pyne was hugely inspired by Abanindranath Tagore since childhood. He started his artistic career in 1960 as a book illustrator, and then joined the Society of Contemporary Artists in 1963. While Pyne’s early works are mostly in watercolour, in the 1960s he made small drawings in pen and ink, and later moved to mediums such as gouache and tempera, creating artworks rich in imagery and symbolism.
In the 1980s, he completely shut himself from the world, fazed by the commercialism that surrounded him. Not interested in promoting himself or being in the limelight, Ganesh Pyne held his first solo exhibition only at the age of 50. His works have, over the decades, been displayed in several group exhibitions across India and in Paris, London, Washington and Germany. Through the 1980s and 1990s, his art fetched some of the highest prices amongst Indian artists, and he established himself amongst the leading painters of the Bengal School. Ganesh Pyne died in 2013 in Kolkata.
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