Google Doodle celebrates life and work of Jamini Roy

Today, Google Doodle is paying tribute to famous Indian artist Jamini Roy on his 130th birth anniversary.

Fluid brush strokes that were an exercise in poetry, colours that were an expression of earthiness and vibrancy, images that were rooted in the folk art forms - such are the hallmarks of a Jamini Roy painting. Despite being a commissioned portrait painter in 1920s, he abruptly stopped to find his own identity, which would reflect his unique self. Roy brought versatility and emotion to folk art.

Roy drew inspiration especially from Kalighat pats (the style of painting that developed around the Kalighat temple area in the 19th century), and his paintings depicted ordinary figures from day-to-day/rural life, scenes from the epics and representations of animals.

Roy, whose career would spread over six decades, graduated in British academic style of painting from the Government Art School. Interestingly, Roy limited his palette to Indian red, yellow ochre, cadmium green, vermillion, grey, blue and white, all of seven colours that were mostly earthy or mineral colours. Like many artists, Roy swerved from the art he was taught and took a different turn when India was witnessing a nationalist movement. For inspiration, he turned back towards his own district, painted his own people thus honing his craft.

In the 1940s, the popularity of his paintings reached an all-time high, with his works becoming prized possessions in both Bengali and European households. Roy was awarded the Padma Bhusan in 1954. His Ramayana begins with Valmiki and completes a full circle to end at the sage's hermitage after Sita's agnipariksha.

In 1976, the Archaeological Survey of India, Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India declared his works among the "Nine Masters" whose work, to be henceforth considered "to be art treasures, having regard to their artistic and aesthetic value Roy died in 1972".

View a virtual gallery of Roy's works here.

  • Salvatore Jensen