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    Sale 11512

    South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art

    26 May 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 37

    RAMKINKAR BAIJ (1910-1980)

    Untitled (Dandi March - II)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    RAMKINKAR BAIJ (1910-1980)
    Untitled (Dandi March - II)
    bronze
    Executed in 1948, cast in 1972
    18 3/4 x 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (47.6 x 24.1 x 29.2 cm.)
    Executed in 1948, cast in 1972; from an edition of eight


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    Born in 1906, not only was Ramkinkar Baij India’s first modern sculptor, but also “one of the most important voices in the discourse on modernism in India.” (N. Ahuja, Ramkinkar through the Eyes of Devi Prasad, New Delhi, 2007, unpaginated)

    Baij spent most of his life at Santiniketan, first as one of Nandalal Bose’s students at Kala Bhavan, then as a teacher and finally Head of the Sculpture Department at the school. His most important large-scale sculptural works remain on public display on the campus in Santiniketan. Writing about Baij, Benode Behari Mukherjee remembered what Bose once said to him about his colleague. “At noon, Acharya Nandalal appeared in my studio room and said, ‘Benode, go and watch Ramkinkar sculpting in clay, the dexterity of his hands is really unnerving! This is not achievable with the devotion of one life only! Ramkinkar is born with the continuum of endeavour across many incarnations.’” (B. Mukherjee, Sadhak-Shilpi Ramkinkar, cited in Ramkinkar Baij, Self-Portrait, Writings and Interviews 1962-1979, Kolkata, 2005, pp. 9-10)

    Even before Baij moved to Santiniketan in 1925, Mahatma Gandhi had made a strong impression on him through his 1921 Non-Cooperation Movement. In his hometown of Bankura, he worked briefly with the Congress Party under Anilbaran Ray, painting posters and large portraits of its leaders and even spinning khadi. This impressive sculpture by Baij, one of three versions of the subject he made, captures one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century, and certainly of modern Indian history, in a unique expressionist idiom.

    Here, in the tradition of several artists before him, most notably Nandalal Bose, Baij portrays a determined Gandhi, mid-stride. Unlike Bose’s work, however, Baij’s version of Gandhi, despite its popular title, is not headed to Dandi to break the British Salt Law and launch his Satyagraha movement of non-violent civil disobedience. Likely a maquette for one part of a large outdoor sculpture of Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore that Baij was planning, this 1948 image of Gandhi is “one of the most powerful representations of him. Done immediately after Gandhi’s assassination, it represents not the Gandhi of the Dandi March, iconically rendered by Nandalal, but the Gandhi of Noakhali, the man who walked courageously into a zone of communal violence trying to calm religious hatred, and finally paid for the pursuit of peace with his life.”

    “[...] Evidently, it was not Ramkinkar’s intention to do a conventional portrait of Gandhi; he wanted to create a figure embodying his vision of Gandhi, a vision in which Gandhi was a metaphor for human energy – a man ‘who appeared to be sprinting when he walked’. In contrast to the first, the figure in the second version is slighter and more elongated, and his steps, though still resolute, are not as wide paced. With the head lowered, his Gandhi, like his final bust of Rabindranath, is immersed in thought even as he strides ahead [...] In it, the body is geometricised and constructed as intersecting forces rising spirally upwards from the base. This is noticeable more clearly when the sculpture is viewed in the round and the spiral development of the form, and the forward movement of the figure is experienced as counterpoised within its dynamic rhythm.” (R. Siva Kumar, ‘An Art of Protest, Abstraction and Mythic Reality’, Ramkinkar Baij, A Retrospective 1906-1980, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 261, 262)

    Initially executed in plaster of Paris in 1948, this sculpture is one of the few works that was cast in bronze during Baij’s lifetime by Bipin Behari Goswami as a limited edition for the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1972. The original plaster version and one edition of the bronze cast are in the collection of the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, the largest repository of Baij’s work today. Baij made the last and largest version of this image in concrete during the mid-1960s with the help of his students like Asit Dasgupta, which stands tall outside the Art History Department at Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan.

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    Provenance

    Private Collection, Kolkata
    Acquired from the above, 2011


    Pre-Lot Text

    [...] Ramkinkar was probably the first sculptor on the Indian art scene whom you can designate a ‘creative sculptor’; he sculpted for his own pleasure and did not cater to a patron’s whims.
    - K.G. Subramanyan, ‘Ramkinkar and his Work’, Ramkinkar Vaij, Sculptures, New Delhi, 2007, p. 199


    Literature

    D. Prasad, Ramkinkar Vaij, Sculptures, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 80-81 (another from the edition illustrated twice)
    Ramkinkar through the Eyes of Devi Prasad, exhibition catalogue, New Delhi, 2007 (another from the edition illustrated, unpagintated)
    M. Menezes, 'A Private Passion', Art India, Vol. XIV, Issue II, 2009, p. 44 (another from the edition illustrated)
    R. Siva Kumar, Ramkinkar Baij, A Retrospective 1906-1980, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 260-262 (another version illustrated thrice)
    ‘Behind the Lines’ The Hindu Metro Plus, New Delhi, 11 February 2012 (another version illustrated)
    C. Padmanabhan, ‘Being universal by being local’, Frontline, New Delhi, 23 March 2012, p. 69 (another version illustrated)
    The Art of Santiniketan, exhibition catalogue, New Delhi, 2015, p. 256 (illustrated twice)


    Exhibited

    New Delhi, The School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Lalit Kala Akademi, Ramkinkar through the Eyes of Devi Prasad, 8-29 October 2007 and May 2010 (another from the edition)
    New Delhi, National Gallery of Modern Art, Ramkinkar Baij, A Retrospective 1906-1980, February 2012 (another from the edition)