Welcome to the online exhibition of Nandalal Bose’s hand-painted postcards, alongside similar postcards by his contemporaries, hosted jointly by Victoria Memorial Hall, Jadunath Bhavan Museum and Resource Centre, and DAG Museums. The exhibition is on from 3 December 2020, to celebrate Nandalal Bose’s birth annivesary as well as one hundred years of Kala Bhavana, till 9 January 2021.
As part of the exhibition we are delighted to present a series of enriching discussions by emninent scholars as well as workshops for children, hosted by ThinkArts. We are also delighted to partner with faculty and students of Kala Bhavana for a special chapter of the exhibition, Letters to Nandalal, which will showcase creative responses to the postcards on display by students and alumni.
This exhibition has image descriptions for individual postcards enabled for Text to Speech/Read Aloud apps.
For Nandalal Bose (1882-1966), the art of drawing and sketching went hand in hand with the art of creating his own picture postcards. The spontaneity, brevity and flourish that marked his sketches lent itself ideally to the format of the postcard. If painting postcards became a part of the artistic oeuvre of several of his contemporaries, it was Nandalal who became the most prolific exponent of this genre and made it an art form in its own right. This exhibition has, as its core, a collection of Nandalal’s painted and written postcards (along with a few small drawings) that he sent his close friend, Ramesh Charan Basu Majumdar (1883-1966), between 1918 and 1946.
The selection of postcards here chronologically lay out Nandalal Bose’s artistic career, from 1918-19, when he was still based in Calcutta and working at the Bichitra Club at Jorasanko, through the years he built up Kala Bhavan and its artistic community and activities at Santiniketan, from the 1920s to the 1940s.
From Nandalal Bose, this section will move to the figure of Ramesh Charan Basu Majumdar, the person to whom the main collection of postcards was sent. The focus shifts here to the address overleaf of the post cards, where he is addressed variously as ‘Head Master’ and ‘Artist’, and where we see the different locations in which he lived.
This set of images, which range from a delicate pencil drawing of 1918 of a masonry painter in Calcutta to the characteristic vigour of Nandalal’s brush and ink sketches of the later decades, exemplifies the role of drawing as a live record of the seen form. Moving from what the eye saw to what the mind remembered, the form then took shape by a recording eye and mind that motored the hand.
To turn to Santiniketan as the one-of-a-kind environment from which Nandalal painted and penned many of these notes is not to search for new clues and hidden histories of the place – even though, some small slivers of information about Nandalal’s plans and activities at Santiniketan can be sliced out occasionally.
A recent gift from Malini Bhattacharya, granddaughter of Ramesh Charan Basu Majumdar, the collection of postcards painted by Nandalal Bose forms the core of the present exhibition. Listen to Bhattacharya about this exciting re-discovery, as lead curator, Tapati Guha-Thakurta offers a framework within which we can understand this rich epistolary culture.
We would like to thank Malini Bhattacharya, Gitasree and Prabir Dutta for access to their collection and for their generous gift to JBMRC. Without their support, this exhibition would not have beeen possible.
Exhibition curated and designed by: Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Sujaan Mukherjee, Kamalika Mukherjee
Jadunath Bhavan Museum and Resource Centre: Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Rosinka Chaudhuri, Prachi Deshpande, Partha Chatterjee, Kamalika Mukherjee, Ritwika Mishra
Victoria Memorial Hall: Jayanta Sengupta, S.V. Raman, Dibyokamal Mitra, Documentation and Education Teams
DAG Museums: Sumona Chakravarty, Sujaan Mukherjee, Sourjyo Sinha, Art Support Team at Ghare Baire