PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION, MUMBAI True darkness gives one a feeling of insecurity bordering on fear but it also has its own charms, mystery, profundity, a fairyland atmosphere. GANESH PYNE
GANESH PYNE (1937-2013)


GANESH PYNE (1937-2013)
signed and dated in Bengali (lower left)
tempera on canvas laid on card
16 x 22 in. (40.6 x 55.9 cm.) image
17 x 23 in. (43.2 x 58.4 cm.) sheet
Painted in 1974
Osian's Connoisseurs of Art, 2003


Ganesh Pyne paints with a poignant sense of surrealism and mysticism. Ephemeral figures populate the interstices between living and dead, mundane and otherworldly, present and past: "the twilight zone means the meeting point of day and night, of life and death, of love and agony-- where everything is seen in a different light." (Midnight To The Boom, exhibition catalogue, Salem, 2013, p. 170) In this painting, the shadowed figures hauntingly dissolve into the background. However, in this exquisite melancholia there is an unescapable beauty, the result of Pyne's delicate artisanal execution. Pyne was initially influenced by Abanindranath and Gaganendranath Tagore of the Bengal school. However, his style soon evolved towards a modernist approach, away from the gentle decorative watercolours which he used in his early career. Pyne began using tempera as his primary medium in the mid-1960s, and his longstanding experiments with indigenous powder pigments and various binding agents allowed him to develop a unique way of building up surface and texture on canvas. He was known for his meticulous draughtsmanship and delicate handling of pigment, only completing around ten paintings a year in this careful process. In this early work from 1974, Pyne exalts his virtuosic rendering of surface with his fetishistic attention to details like the intricately embroidered tablecloth.

There is a palpable atmosphere of the unknown where even the most quotidian items like the teacup and chair seem to discombobulate and confound. "These ordinary items serve as apt metaphors, acquiring different perspectives in the context of a particular painting. For a painter whose canvases are shadowed with melancholy, a flame or a humble lamp is a simple, but enchanting feature, especially in the compositional context of either a journey or death, with its corollaries of disease, decay and fear." (S. Sarkar, Thirst of a Minstrel, The Life and Times of Ganesh Pyne, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 59-64) An aura of melancholia underlines this work, only superceded by an overriding sense of serene tranquillity in the delicate poise of the central figure.

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