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Born in 1887 in a small village in the Bankura district, West Bengal, Jamini Roy joined the Government School of Art, Kolkata in 1903. He began his career by painting in the Post-Impressionist genre of landscapes and portraits, very much in keeping with his training in a British academic system. Yet, by 1925, Roy had begun experimenting along the lines of popular bazaar paintings sold outside the Kalighat temple in Kolkata. By the early 1930s, Roy began to use indigenous materials in his works, painting on woven mats, cloth and wood coated with lime. His inspiration for painting on woven mats was the textures he found in Byzantine art, which he had seen in color photographs. It occurred to him that painting on a woven mat might make for an interesting mosaic-like surface.

The Santhals, tribal people who live in the rural districts of Bengal, were an important subject for Roy. A series of works done a decade before World War II is a prime example of how he captured the qualities that are a part of native folk painting and combined them with those of his own. He fused the minimal brush strokes of the Kalighat style with elements of tribal art from Bengal (like that of the terracotta work found in the Bishnupur temple, where terracotta was often composed into elaborate, decorative units over portals and across exterior walls of the temples).
Roy's rejection of the then modern style of painting and his foray into the realm of Bengali folk paintings marked a new beginning in the history of Indian modern art. The mother and child, Radha, and animals were painted in simple two-dimensional forms, with flat color application and an emphasis on the lines. The main subjects were often enclosed within decorative borders with motifs in the background. The figure of the Christ was also one of Roy’s common subjects.

Roy held several one-man exhibitions and numerous group shows. His works can be found in several private and public collections, institutions and museums all over the world, including the Lalit Kala Academy in Delhi and museums in Germany and the United States of America.

Died 1972, Kolkata, India.


1903-08 Diploma in Fine Arts, Government School of Arts and Craft

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2015 Living Folk, Aicon Gallery, New York
2013 Panoplism', Nature Morte, New Delhi
2013 The Naked and the Nude: The Body in Indian Modern Art', Delhi Art
Gallery, New Delhi
2012 Gallery Collection, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
Contemporary: A Selection of Modern and Contemporary Art, presented by Sakshi Gallery at The Park, Chennai
2011 The Body Unbound, Rubin Museum of Art, New York
Ethos V: Indian Art Through the Lens of History (1900 to 1980), Indigo Blue Art, Singapore
Manifestations VI, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
States of Departure: Progressives to Present Day, Aicon Gallery, London
Manifestations V, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
Masterclass, Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi
Time Unfolded, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi
The Fish Eyed Cosmos, Apparao Galleries, Chennai
Roots in the Air, Branches Below: Modern & Contemporary Art from India, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose
The Emergence of Indian Modern Art, Aicon Gallery, London
2010 Modern Folk: The Folk Art Roots of the Modernist Avant-Garde, Aicon Gallery, New York
Manifestations IV, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
Celebration 2010, Annual Exhibition, Kumar Art Gallery, New Delhi
2009 Indian Art After Independence: Selected Works from the Collections of Virginia & Ravi Akhoury and Shelley & Donald Rubin, Emily Lowe Gallery, Hempstead
In Search of the Vernacular, Aicon Gallery, New York
Kalpana: Figurative Art in India, presented by The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) at Aicon Gallery, London; The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)
Moderns and More, Aicon Gallery, Palo Alto
2008 Multiple Modernities: India, 1905-2005, Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA
Post Independence Masters, Aicon Gallery, New York

2005 Manifestations III – 100 Artists of Contemporary Art, organized by Delhi Art Gallery at Nehru Centre, Mumbai, Lalit Kala Akademi, Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi and Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

2004 Manifestations II – 100 Artists of Contemporary Art, organized by Delhi Art Gallery at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai and Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

2003 Manifestations I – Indian Art in the 20th Century, organized by Delhi Art Gallery at World Trade Centre, Mumbai and Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

Exhibition of Works of Jamini Roy, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

Poetry and Patriotic Fervor, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

Indian Art Pre-Independence, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

2000 Face Off 1900-1980s. An Exhibition of Indian Old Masters and Moderns, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

2000 Art of Bengal: Past and Present 1850-2000, Centre for International Modern Art (CIMA), Kolkata

1997 Art of Bengal 1850-1950: Calcutta Metropolitan Festival of Art, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata

1998 Temperas and Sketches, Art Bazar, Kolkata

1998 The Simplicity of a Pionee’, The Window, Mumbai

1995 From Seeds to Flowers – Jamini Roy and His Roots, Romain Rolland Galerie, Alliance Francaise, New Delhi

1990 Centenary Exhibition, Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai

1987 Centenary Exhibition, National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi
1987 Centenary Exhibition, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata

Select Group Exhibitions

2012 Jamini Roy & Somnath Hore: Figuration in the Bengal School: Part I – Jamini Roy: A Retrospective, Aicon Gallery, New York
2011 The Emergence of Indian Modern Art, Aicon Gallery, New York
1998 The Window, Mumbai
1987 Centenary Exhibtion, NGMA
1938 British Indian Street, Calcutta
1937 Samavaya Mansions, Calcutta

Awards & Honors

1967 Awarded honorary D. Litt., Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata 1956 Elected Fellow, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi 1955 Awarded Padma Bhushan, Government of India
1935 Awarded Viceroys Gold Medal for ‘Mother Helping the Child to Cross the Pool