Somnath Hore was born in 1921 in Chittagong studied at the Government College of Art in Calcutta. He witnessed the chain of devastation left by the Japanese bombing raid on Chittagong which was followed by a man made famine in 1943. Such suffering deeply impacted Hore and led him to outpour in sketches and poster drawing, which documented the devastation.
Some of his drawings were published in the Communist Party magazine called Janayudha (People’s War) which brought him to the notice of the party leaders. Somnath Hore was one of the most prominent political artists and activists of post-independence India. His affiliation to the Communist Party at an early age, strongly influenced his artistic ideologies and methods of art practice.
During his college days, Somnath Hore was drawn to Zainul Abedin’s Famine Series and produced the Tebhaga Tea Garden Diaries of 1946 - 1947. In 1958, Somnath Hore moved to Delhi to join the Delhi Polytechnic. He experimented and analysed different methods of printmaking like wood engraving, etching, lithography and dry point. His prints started gaining attention and prominence across the country. However, at the peak of his artistic progress, Somnath Hore left Delhi and moved back to Calcutta.
In 1969, Dinkar Kowshik and Benode Behari Mukherjee encouraged him to move to Santiniketan and join the Printmaking Department at Kala Bhavan. At the time, Calcutta was going through a political and social upheaval and Hore was disturbed by the conflict. While in Santiniketan, Somnath Hore developed his pulp print technique with the Wound series. The meditative white on white surface texture of cuts and peels, of skinned and bruised, intensified the core expression of pain and suffering which he experienced throughout his life.
In 1974, Somnath Hore played with lumps of wax in the company of the sculpture students at Kala Bhavan when he realised that he can make figures with ‘wounds’ as well. He started making sculptures, twisting and turning wax sheets, cutting them with hot blades, making marks which resonated with the impression of his Wounds.
These sculptures were then recast in bronze and Hore discovered a new medium for his art. The anguished human form has widely been reflected in Hore’s figuration. Having witnessed the war first hand, the artist showcases man's complete helplessness. His sculptures are presented as iconic figures with human fragility and beauty.
Professor R. Siva Kumar explains in Somnath Hore: A Reclusive Socialist and a Modernist, “what appears to be abstraction is both a de-particularization of suffering to give it a broader humanist perspective and materialist use of medium to make suffering viscerally palpable; a new liaison between theme and process, between image and its making.”
Untitled (A Flower Born)
Bronze, Unique Edition
Starting Bid: 10,00,000
Estimate: INR 12,00,000 - 15,00,000
Prinseps' Modern Art and Contemporary Sale is now live for proxy bidding. Live bidding opens at 7 P.M. on November 17th.
Nanak Ganguly Ed. “Readings – Somnath Hore” Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi 2010,
R Siva Kumar. “Somnath Hore: A Reclusive Socialist and a Modernist”
“Bengal Art: New Perspectives” Ed. Samik Bandyopadhyay, Pratikshan Essays in the Arts 1., January 2010.