GANESH PYNE (1937-2013)
Untitled (Bird)
signed and dated in Bengali (lower right)
tempera on canvas laid on card
19¾ x 18¼ in. (50.5 x 46.4 cm.)
Painted in 1995
Sotheby's London, 8 June 2000, lot 239

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Lot Essay

Ganesh Pyne is known for his meticulous draughtsmanship and delicate handling of pigment. Influenced by the brothers Abanindranath and Gaganendranath Tagore, Pyne began using tempera as his primary medium in the mid-1960s, and his longstanding experiments with indigenous powder pigments and various binding agents allowed him to develop a unique way of building up surface and texture on canvas.

Pyne notes that he was also influenced by Paul Klee, Rembrandt van Rijn and Frans Hals. While his subjects combine rich spiritual and historical referentiality with modernist invention, his treatment of light and shadow pays homage to the Dutch masters.

In his work Pyne addresses the meeting point of polarities; material and immaterial, life and death, light and dark. His brooding dreamscapes populated with skeletal human and animal figures, masks and puppets are intimations of beauty, decay and impermanence. “True darkness gives one a feeling of insecurity bordering on fear but it also has its own charms, mystery, profundity, a fairyland atmosphere.” ('Ganesh Pyne in Conversation with Arany Banerjee', Lalit Kala Contemporary, April 1993 as reprinted in N. Tuli, The Flamed Mosaic: Indian Contemporary Painting, Ahmedabad, 1997, p. 55)

“Ganesh Pyne’s work is often described as melancholic, with watery canvases depicting dark scenes of ghostly, skeletal figures and spindly vegetation. His figures populate the interstices between living and dead, mundane and otherworldly, present and past: “the twilight zone means the meeting point of day and night, of life and death, of love and agony – where everything is seen in a different light.” (S. Bean, Midnight To The Boom, New York, 2013, p. 170)

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