An iconoclast who defied the artistic norms of Santiniketan, where he was brought by journalist Ramananda Chatterjee, Ramkinkar Baij created his art spontaneously, driven by intuition and energy and disregarding the norms and artistic standards accepted by the institution. A brief introduction to modelling by a visiting French sculptor led Baij to engage in a unique manner with clay and evolve a personal, innovative style that was largely untrained.
The first artist in Santiniketan to use oil paint and create distinctly modern and abstract works, Baij introduced cement concrete casting as an alternative to expensive plaster. He used Santhal wraps with packet colours thinned with linseed oil for his oil paintings, and drew his figures on silk with a shoe brush as part of his innovations.
Drawn from life, Baij’s figures breathed a bold realism, an earthy strength and spontaneity seen in his sculptures, drawings and paintings. A similar spontaneity of action is visible in his transparent watercolours and drawings, particularly in the sequence of nudes. The first truly ‘modern’ Indian sculptor, his sculptures were monumental, and yet possessed an inner movement, as seen in Santhal Family or Mill Call in particular. The colossal Yaksha and Yakshi sculptures at the Reserve Bank of India, New Delhi, brought Baij recognition and the award of the Padma Bhushan.
His exhibit with us is a water color and ink on paper made in 1977.