Not many of us have heard or are even aquainted with the wash technique of painting, but Ajoy Ghose, is still practising it in a bid to popularise the traditional technique that came to India all the way from Japan.
In 1903, Japanese scholar and art critic Okakura sent his two artist disciples Yokoyama Taikan and Hisbida Sbunso to India, and they stayed with the Tagores in Calcutta. Abanindranath Tagore then observed how Taikan — using a large, flat brush — charged with water over a carefully painted and a highly-finished surface, giving it a range of soft and delicate tonalities. Later, Abanindranath developed the technique further.
‘I started mastering the art of wash technique at the age of 19. Since then all my perseverance for the past 56 years is channelised to expand this art form,’ said Ghose.
Wash technique, which is almost a 100 year old, involves a certain procedure. ‘After a thin transparent layer of watercolour, the painting is literally dipped in water which washes away some of the colour, and yet another transparent colour-wash is given on it. In this way, after successive colour and water-washes, different colours get fused, bringing out tender tones,’ explained the 64-year-old.
‘With all this emphasis on contemporary and modern art, somewhere the old traditional techniques of Indian art are getting lost. So it is important to create an awareness,’ pointed out Shobha Bhatia, Director, Gallerie Ganesha and curator of the exhibition.
‘Ajoy Ghose is an unsung master belonging to the Bengal School of Art who has remained true to the labour- intensive and highly skilled technique of wash paintings,’ she added.
Ajoy was deeply inspired by Bengal School masters like Abanindranath Tagore and Nandalal Bose. His works mainly depict and recreate the stories from Indian mythology.
Some of his works which bear a modern touch while being anchored in tradition. There are several episodes from the life of Chaitanya in traditional ochre robes, the necklace of lapis lazuli in the neck of Shiva, in the painting Barshafal Kathan. In Parthsarathi, lord Krishna is depicted in the act of reciting from Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna — the war mania is hinted in full flow with horses clawing the air in desperation indicating the impending disaster.
‘From Ahilya and Savitri, Karna-Kunti and Karna Parashuram, to depicting divinities like Durga, Ganesha and Shiva, I love to paint diverse figures of deities while expressing their varied nuances,’ concluded Ghose.
At: Gallerie Ganesha, E-557, Greater Kailash II
On Till: 10 October
Phone: 29226043, 29217306