The first retrospective show of Rabindra Krishna Paul, veteran painter and disciple of legendary artist Nandalal Bose, was held in the Capital’s reputed Lokayata Art Gallery last month. It consisted of 61 paintings done in Tempera or Wash ranges from 1951 to 2006.

Pal’s works are full of potential and vivacity. Born on 1 January 1933 in undivided Bengal, Paul learnt art at Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan under the tutelage of leading artists like Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij, Surendranath Kar, Vinayak Masoji, Kripal Singh Sekhawat, Prasanto Roy and many more.

He planned and mounted several corporate exhibitions, including the Gandhi Centenary Exhibition (1969),International Trade Fair (1972), New Delhi, for the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) promoting the hand spun and hand-woven textile. He has been honoured as one of the leading veteran artists of India by the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS). He held several solo exhibitions. The most significant work he did was a 4ft x 120ft mural, which Satyajit Ray commissioned for his film Goopi Gayen Bagha Bayen. Paul was for long actively associated with the Indian Society of Oriental Art and the Academy of Fine Arts, National Academy of Fine Arts, Amritsar and Hyderabad Art Society, among others.

Renowned art critic and art historian Prof. Sovon Som said, "As an artist Rabindra Krishna fortunately carries on a genre, which is firmly rooted in his soil and his style strongly betrays his Indian perspective. Paul also had the opportunity to learn the wash technique under the affectionate guidance of Prasanto Roy, an exponent of the technique and a direct disciple of Abanindra Nath Tagore…"

Paul has applied both wash and tempera technique in his paintings. His love for the wash technique is because of his theme’s poetic effectiveness and his intense participatory vision of the world in his imagination.

Formal elements such as the treatment of space in a few of Paul’s works are reminiscent of miniatures, which interestingly depict women, among many other subject matters, involved in various daily activities. Paul’s women are involved, not through passive observation but through a sensual, profound involvement that is bold and individualistic. Paul instilled his work with a strong lyrical content that leaned toward literary narrative. He was successful in expressing a great deal with delicate lines and washes, and sometimes enhanced his paintings with a few decorative elements.

Some of his works which were displayed at the retrospective are Flame of the Forest, Six Seasons, Labourer Mother, Santhal Family, Many Births in Vain,Omar Khayyam, Sarbati, On the Road Side, Feast with Leftovers, Patamanjari (a ragini), Cobbler, Path hrough Pines, Ganesh Janani, Durga, Man and Woman, Chaitanyadev, Waiting, Remembrance and ‘Waiting. Writer Taslima Nasreen inaugurated the retrospective. A seminar was organised on 22 March on the artist’s experiences, including working with Satyajit Ray. It was presided over by eminent art critic Suneet Chopra in the presence of contemporary national award winner artist and sculptor Amitava Bhowmick.