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Bikash Bhattacharjee's Early Work

Bikash Bhattacharjee was born in Kolkata in 1940 and graduated from the Indian College of Arts and Draftsmanship, Kolkata in 1963. His works were inspired by his early childhood and environment.

His subjects were often portraits of people from the politically charged atmosphere of Kolkata and were often representatives of their class and included various depictions of the female form. 

Realism being Bhattacharjee’s forte, he could capture the light perfectly making the canvas come to life. His paintings often showed the struggles of poverty and socio-economic unrest that surrounded him.

Bikash Bhattacharjee, Rooftops
Source: Sotheby’s 2018

UNTITLED (ROOFTOPS)
Signed and dated 'Bikash' 64-72' lower right
Oil on canvas
32½ x 68⅝ in. (82.8 x 174.3 cm.)
Painted between 1964-72
Sold : 125,000 USD

Arun Bose, his teacher at Dharmatala Art School (Indian College of Art and Draughtsmanship) often encouraged the students studying there to take on ‘outdoor study’ expeditions.

Bikash Bhattacharjee

While the rest of the students went to the zoo, the botanical gardens and the ghats, Bikash Bhattacharjee preferred less scenic areas of Calcutta. He would often wander through the lanes and smaller bylanes of North Calcutta, looking for decaying buildings and neighbourhoods. The landscapes are often devoid of human figures and the architectural structures make it look uninhabitable.

Bikash Bhattachrjee, Untitled

Source: Sotheby’s 2015
UNTITLED
Signed 'Bikash' upper left
Oil on canvas
47¾ by 33 in. (121.2 by 83.8 cm.)
Painted in 1964
Sold : 75,000 USD

The artist grew up in his maternal uncle’s house in North Calcutta after his father died while he was still a young child. Bikash Bhattacharjee was inspired by the crumbling ruins of the buildings, narrow lanes and rooftops of the city.

Bikash Bhattacharjee, Untitled (Rooftops)

Source: Sotheby’s 2018

UNTITLED (ROOFTOPS)
Signed and dated 'Bikash' 64' lower right
Oil on canvas 
49⅝ x 46¾ in. (126.4 x 118.8 cm.)
Painted in 1964
Sold : 87,500 USD

He witnessed partition and independence while he was a young child and lost his father at the age of six. This left him with a sense of struggle and empathy for people less privileged than him. The socio-economic changes that were happening in India at that time deeply affected him and his art.

Styles, mediums and subject matter did not restrict him as he was truly a multi-faceted artist. His version of surrealism involved a message, a twist, a questioning of the normal realistic image. He is quite unique as an artist and can possibly be compared to Rene Magritte. Though the hugely differentiating factor being the message or the perspective versus the focus on the object.

Archival Image taken by Bikash Bhattacharjee

Original photograph taken by Bikash Bhattacharjee from the family archives.

His works have a sense of formal clarity, and excellent execution with detailed textural and tonal compositions. He is considered to be a draughtsman of the highest calibre. While his work may not immediately make sense to the viewer, the artist makes the most mundane subject matter look vivid, and raises a lot of questions.

One of his early works, showcasing his immense skill, is up for auction on the 17th of November: 

Bikash Bhattacharjee, Untitled (Cityscapes)

Lot #8

Bikash Bhattacharjee

Untitled (Cityscape)

1964

Oil on canvas

Starting Bid: INR 30,00,000

Estimate: INR 40,00,000 - 50,00,000

Prinseps' Modern Art and Contemporary Sale is now live for proxy bidding. Live bidding opens at 7 P.M. on November 17th.