Building A Legacy Of Great Art
Art Soul Life|Feb - April 2018

The prolific Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhury enriched various areas of art through his paintings, sculptures and writings and his excellent draughtsmanship will forever remain a great example for the new generations of sculptors.

Dr Varsha Das

As one enters the huge iron gates of The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) at the India Gate roundabout in New Delhi, one finds an imposing sculpture by Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhuri on a high pedestal standing in the midst of the sprawling green lawns and beds of colourful flowers. This palatial building was known as Jaipur House, perhaps a summer palace of the Maharaja of Jaipur. However, this setting is rather paradoxical, for the sculpture is called The Triumph of Labour. It depicts a group of men, all of them labourers, using their strength in the act of lifting the weight. The strain of their movement is loud on their bodies. It is a simplified display of human anatomy, reminding one of the muscular Roman figures. A little further from this location as one moves towards Janpath, one reaches the National Museum. Here too, outside the building is another huge sculpture by the same artist, of a heavy bosomed woman with covered head, watching her steps, with one hand around a pitcher. The title of this sculpture is Rhythm. The woman has paused midway in her stride. Her breasts are half revealed, half concealed. The characteristic sensuality of the Bengal School is evident in this sculpture. One finds translucent draperies clinging on or floating about female figures in most of the paintings done by the artists of this school. When Devi Prosad was still in his teens, he had taken Abanindranath Tagore as his master. Soft flat tones, wash technique, lyrical lines and mythological themes were considered the special features of the works of artists who belonged to the Bengal School. Such style, technique and content, in fact, were those of Abanindranath and therefore, whoever worked with or under him followed them. Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhury was no exception. He, too, began to paint figures from Hindu mythology and legends in water colour using the wash technique; landscapes, seascapes and hillscapes were painted in oil, water colour and ink. He also did portraits. As a painter he was considered a traditionalist.

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