Ganesh Pyne, the famed contemporary Indian painter, passed away at a private hospital in Kolkata on Tuesday, March 12. He was 76. Born in 1937 in a large family of North Kolkata, Pyne spent all his life in the city that so enchanted him. He is widely acknowledged as a leading second-generation Indian modernist. Succeeding the early pioneers, such as M.F. Husain and F.N. Souza, his cohort was the first to be trained in post-independence India.
Pyne sought admission at Kolkata’s Government College of Art and Craft in 1955. The jury was so impressed with his work that it set a rare precedent by allowing him to skip the first year of training. Already respectful of the legacy of the Bengal School, the artist now had an opportunity to learn about European art; he was drawn to artists as disparate as Rembrandt and Paul Klee. His small, intimate tempera paintings, based on Indian myths, legends, epics, and autobiographical imagery, and produced with the rigor of miniature painting, testify to a uniqueness of vision resulting from a complex synthesis of a range of visual and conceptual sources. The consistently introspective mood of his work matched his deeply private, soft-spoken, polite self, comfortable only in intimate circles. He is known to have invented certain indigenous techniques of tempera painting. With gradual national recognition in the 1970s, the last thirty years brought him wide international acclaim. The critical discourse of modern Indian art is only beginning to understand the complexity and multivalence of Ganesh Pyne’s creative contributions.
Links to Ganesh Pyne’s obituaries: