Jamini Roy remains one of the most important voices in the history of modern Indian art. He enjoyed much success during his lifetime and exhibited in India, London and New York. Born in West Bengal in 1887, Roy studied under Abanindranath Tagore at the Government School of Art, Calcutta from 1906 to 1914. As a young artist, Roy began his career by painting portraits and Impressionist style landscapes, but by his late 30s began experimenting with Kalighat and Bengali folk painting.
“Roy's striking formalist pictorial language, his simple monumental images of sari-clad women, madonnas, village dances and domestic animals have become iconic [...] In short, for this Bengali formalist, 'true' art did not consist in copying nature, but in offering the essential form in all honesty and without frills." (P. Mitter, The Triumph of Modernism: India's Artists and the Avante-garde 1922-1947, New Delhi 2007, p. 112)
Drawing upon those influences, he eventually conceived the style of painting for which he is best known, a revolutionary reinterpretation of traditional Indian iconography by way of crisp, clean, modernist lines. His mission was to capture the simplicity embodied in folk life; to make art available to a wider cross-section of people; and to provide Indian art with its own identity. Roy discarded European paints choosing mineral and vegetable based pigments. Painting ordinary men and women and reformulating popular images, he restricted his palette to seven earthy colors; red, yellow ochre, cadmium green, vermillion, grey, blue and white.