The name Ganesh Pyne almost sounds like a call from a distant past yet brings very contemporary memories, the most recent being his death earlier this month. Having been carefully etching paint and colour onto canvases since the early 1960’s, Pyne is someone that a large audience will identify with. His demise however now leaves a deep chasm in not just Indian art scene, but also in the individualist sense that Pyne created as his own brand.
Paying tribute the artistic great, art historian and a very good friend of the artist, Pranab Ranjan Ray was in the city on Friday to deliver a talk and presentation at the Kalakriti art gallery. Talking to City Express ahead of the event, Pranab shares his memories and take on long time friend and subject.
“I first came across Pyne’s work in the 60’s itself. When I saw his work, what struck me immediately was that his mind and conception was in tune with contemporary. However, coming from the Bengal school of art, his works did not fit into known grooves of the art. And that made him unique,” begins the octogenarian.
Having lived his career parallel to Pyne’s, Pranab Ranjan had almost a serendipitous connection with the artist, watching him transmute over the years yet still remain the same.
“I am actually four years older to Ganesh,” chuckles the historian as he reflects back.
His passion becomes clear as he continues elaborating on the artist, who towards his end, was known to be a severe recluse. “Ganesh drew strong inspirations from Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore and Rabindranath Tagore. From Abanindrabath he learnt the art of ambient light, where there isn’t any definite source. From Gaganendranath, he learnt the value of darkness and from Rabindranath he learnt of colour and the function of light,” explains Pranab. But while it wasn’t just the Bengal masters of art that influenced the young man. “Rembrandt and Paul Klee were important influences as well. However, he soon overgrew his inspirations and moved on, searching for himself.
He picked up elements of visual aesthetics when needed but it was the visual linguistic element he kept looking for.”
In a lifetime of art that spanned decades, and for a soul that began his life’s journey as painfully as he did, change was inevitable. While Pranab says that his best works are spread over his career, there were definitely marked differences.
“One turning point in his career was when illustrated an autobiography book of a 16 century Jain muni.
That was when he achieved his trademark figuration. I also noticed that as he withdrew himself socially, certain intensities in his work declined,” he opines. But such was the man that he always withheld. “His paintings are as enigmatic as his personality. He always kept something to himself.” The exhibition in tribute to the artist will remain on view at the gallery till March 28, open from 11 am to 7 pm at road no 10, Banjara Hills.