To use a cliché, the death of Ganesh Pyne (1937-2013) on Tuesday following a heart attack marks the end of an era.
The twin talents of Ganesh Pyne and Bikash Bhattacharjee (1940-2006) reestablished Bengal art in the Indian art market in the ‘60s, when their work started drawing big money.
From the ‘50s, Bengal art was not selling in the national market.
There was no remarkable art movement in Bengal after the Calcutta Group movement (1943-53). In the ‘60s, art movement was back with the Society for Contemporary Artists (1959 to till date) coming into force.
Pyne joined the movement in the later phase – 1963 — but soon became its most prominent face.
In the ‘60s, I started as a co-traveller of Pyne and Bhattacharjee.
We shared a common trait — we never drew or painted for money. The times were different and money was far from the world of art in Kolkata.
The appreciation of art was so poor that even highly educated persons called a painting a ‘photo’.
But the ‘60s was a time for new vision, new outlook and new experiments. It was an era of search -- for a new language, new forms of expression, and, of course, new content.
Pyne’s search — within himself and outside — gave his work a distinct identity. He had a world of his own, a very personal world.
The unique expressions from his inner world moved viewers in a completely different way. One had to go deep into his works and there was so much of depth that people used to step into a completely new world, a world hitherto unknown.
We never had much monetary expectations, and would be happy with friends and some critics praising our works. Whenever any painting or drawing got sold, we would have a party with the money.
But gradually the works of Pyne and Bhattacharjee started fetching big amounts, as they found appreciation across the country. Within a few years, their market spread beyond the borders of the country.
Pyne made us all proud of Bengal art and paved the way for the next generation artists to get national attention. Anyone can now guess what a great loss his death implies.
Haloi, eminent painter and former professor at Government College of Art and Craft, spoke to Snigdhendu Bhattacharya.