Nandalal’s Painted Postcards

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 to his close friend, Ramesh Charan Basu Majumdar (1883-1966), between 1918 and 1946.

These postcards take us , on the one hand, through the most important years of Nandalal Bose’s artistic career and travels across India and abroad. On the other hand, they are privy to his intimate friendship with Ramesh Charan, his exact contemporary, a school headmaster, based largely in Sunamganj, Sylhet and Dhaka, who was also an amateur artist, associated with the artists of the Bengal School and Santiniketan, most closely with Nandalal Bose and Asit Haldar.

Nandalal Bose
Nandalal Bose painting in his studio
Sketch of Ramesh Charan Basu Majumdar by Nandalal Bose

A recent gift from the granddaughter of Ramesh Charan Basu Majumdar to JBMRC, this collection is being brought into the public domain for the first time, and will be placed alongside a small selection of painted postcards from the same years, written to or by Nandalal’s contemporaries, Abanindranath Tagore, Asit Haldar and Jamini Roy, which exist in the collections of DAG and VMH.

 

By bringing together this genre of postcards from these institutional collections, this exhibition is an invitation to reflect, both, on the kind of art form that these postcards constitute, and on the snippets of art historical and professional exchanges that emerge from these letters and the locations from which they were sent. The idea is to place these postcards within a composite ambit of sketching and letter-writing, and open these up to the friendships, affiliations and networks that mark this period of modern Indian art, moving between the private and public worlds of this community of artists.

 

– Tapati Guha-Thakurta (Lead Curator)