Ramkinkar Baij (1906-1980) notably figures among the top-ranking artists of modern India. Like Amrita Sher-Gil, Rabindranath Tagore, and very few others among his predecessors, he is widely considered as one of the first bridge-builders between Indian and Western modern art. He is also seen as having connected the indigenous modernism of pre-independence India with the more internationalist modernism. Unmistakably a gifted sculptor and artist of great depth, his monumental sculptures have established landmarks in public art. Self taught and perceived as a bohemian, Ramkinkar has also been surrounded by a lot of mystification. His powerful experimentations: ranging from the representational to the abstract, inspired generations of younger artists. One of the earliest modernists in Indian art, he assimilated the idiom of the European modern visual language and rooted it in his own Indian ethos.
This beautifully-crafted volume accompanied the ‘Retrospective Exhibition of Ramkinkar Baij’, organized by the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi, in collaboration with Delhi Art Gallery. Notwithstanding Ramkinkar’s considerable historical importance, this, perhaps paradoxically, was the first major retrospective exhibition of his work -- with over four hundred works. Divided into various subcategories, the Retrospective, among others, sought to delineate the life and times of the artist through his works; contextualize the previously scattered works within the discourse of modern art history; and to find linkages of his works with the larger discourse of art history of his contemporary times. “This retrospective aims to be a context in which the post-1980s generation of Indian artists see, accept, reject, understand or misunderstand the master creator, the artist, the man, Ramkinkar Baij,” says the exhibition curator, K.S. Radhakrisnan.
R. Siva Kumar, (b. 1956), is Professor of Art at Kala Bhavana, Visva Bharti University, Santiniketan. K.S. Radhakrishnan, (b. 1956), is a distinguished sculptor who already has had more than 15 solo shows.