Did Jamini Roy criticize Tagore’s paintings?
He is one artist who had not only popularized Kalighat pata style of painting of women with almond eyes and curvaceous bodies, but brought to the world an extensive study on Rabindranath Tagore’s painting style. Jamini Roy was one artist who returned to his roots, despite being trained in western classical style of painting under Abanindranath Tagore, who himself was considered as the founder of Bengal school of art. Jamini Roy was keen to amalgamate the folklore and folk art of Bengal in his style and use indigenous materials such as mill-made paper and vegetable-based pigments made from flowers, mud and powdered rock. Tagore had been by then known far and wide as a poet and author. But his paintings were hardly discussed, other than by Nandalal Bose, who gave elaborate lectures to his students of Kalabhavan, dissecting Tagore’s art form.
Jamini Roy was probably the first working artist to have spoken about Tagore’s art work in details and his views were for the first time published in Buddhadeb Bose’s newspaper Kabita. It was Bengal circa 1348. His essay in Kabita known as Rabindranather Chhobi was appreciated by the poet himself. In 1941, Tagore wrote a letter to Jamini Roy expressing his delight after reading the essay. He writes: “I am relieved that a stalwart in art like you appreciated my paintings. The audience in Bengal has hardly understood my art form and has rarely seen merit in it. Frankly, there are very few in Bengal, who understands the intricate nuances of an art form that is different from the Western format. To understand art, one needs experience. Most critics do not have that and hence feel criticizing paintings will make them famous. It will be for long that my poems and paintings will not get their due worth and recognition in this country. But I am happy that they have and will find a place in the hearts of people like you, who are the true thinkers.”
This was indeed a huge recognition for Jamini Roy. Roy also made many observations about Tagore’s art form. He realized Tagore drew in Western style and in order to understand his paintings, a critic should be proficient in European style of painting. Incidentally, Tagore had no formal training in Western style of painting, but his line drawings and colour combinations reflect that form.Purely through imaginations, he could bring them to life. But due to lack of formal training, he was not able to bring the Western style to perfection.