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Preface

The motivations of a creative being are invariably guided by an inner energy and vitality that manifests itself into its several diverse modes, unifying itself and replenishing the demands and needs of each other…..thus creating an anatomy of interdependence with singularity of purpose…..creative in its core and fertile in its quality.

Benodbehari Mukherjee proved to be one such seminal personality who successfully wore the garb of not only an artist, a teacher, but a muralist, a thinker, and a writer who has left behind a unique presence on the historical map of Indian art. This was in spite of his initial visual impairment resulting in total blindness at the prime age of his life.

His early training and exposure at Shantiniketan at the newly formed Kala Bhavan exposed this young mind to Tagore's vision of the progressive unification working beyond academic structures and making Shantiniketan an international platform where true indigenous visual culture imbibed the spirit of the Far East and re- validated it on modern lines, could be possible. This opened new possibilities and never explored domains of visual thinking and creative expressions with a desire to reach out from the realms of personalized expression to the domains of the public space with a sense of ingenuity and functionality. Binod da's interest and involvement with the far-east also provided him perceptive insights into the symbolic, suggestive, spontaneous and energized aspects of the visual language and also brought him more closer to his immediate surroundings.His keen sense of observation of everyday reality charged with the inner vitality of matter became his innate strength which is visible in the innumerable drawings, sketches, scrolls, and murals that he created in his lifetime.

The several murals that he created in spite of his losing eyesight reveal his intense involvement with the mural tradition that offered him an opportunity larger in scale and certainly more ambitious than the possibilities of expression as a result of his interest and involvement with the Japanese folios, scrolls and screens. This brought about a cross pollination of sensibilities providing him ample opportunity to represent a personalized vision of the world utilizing both pictorial, thematic, as well as his social and conceptual concerns. The murals he created stand today as a valid link between our own cultural tradition and in its process of creating a valid, relevant modernity, pertinent to this country.

The nation today celebrates the creative genius of this master who spent a larger part of his life as a recluse but this retrospective proves that he can be considered as a prodigious artist who provided a new direction to our creative energies. Recipient of several honors bestowed upon him including Padma Vibhushan and an honorary doctorial degree of Desikottama by Visva Bharati, the nation today honors him with a centenary retrospective showcasing some of the most outstanding works created in his lifetime. The exhibition has been very painstakingly and lovingly curated by Prof. Gulam Mohammad Sheikh and Prof. Shiva Kumar. I wish to also acknowledge the support of Ms. Mrinalini Mukherjee along with several other lenders who have loaned their precious works to make this exhibition possible. I wish to also thank Ms. Nilima Sheikh along with many others who have painstakingly and generously contributed to the publications and this exhibition in every possible way as it would be indeed difficult to acknowledge them personally and individually.

I am confident that this exhibition would prove to be an eye opener to the art fraternity of this country and would provide newer insights and possibilities of engagement in a dialogue about re-thinking about our past, present and our contemporary future.

Prof. Rajeev Lochan
Director,
National Gallery of Modern Art
 

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