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Ramkinkar Baij

 (1910 - 1980)
Ramkinkar Baij was active/lived in India.  Ramkinkar Baij is known for painting.

Ramkinkar Baij

Biography from Christie's London, King Street

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 endeavor 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.”

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About  Ramkinkar Baij

Born:  1910
Died:   1980
Known for:  painting