In a land where very little is understood, about the Art of Painting though appreciated by a number of the cultural cornucopia, however her foster sister Sculpture, appears to appeal only to a chosen who have had sober attractions felt and possessed towards the artistic domain. It might almost be said that it requires a natural aptitude for Art-a keen appreciation of things of beauty and of the aims of the artist. Sudhir Khastgir is one individual who has contributed lots to the same.
Early Life of Sudhir Khastgir
Sudhir Khastgir was born in Chittagong, Bangladesh in the year 1929 and met Abanindranath Tagore and Gaganendranath Tagore in Jorasanko, Kolkata which changed the course of his life forever. 1929 he set out amidst India with the serious interest of an artist and the heart of an explorer. He saw places such as Konark, Elephanta and Mahabalipuram and this enriched his exploring heart forever.
Career of Sudhir Khastgir
After graduating from the Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan, he went to Academy of Fine Arts, Munich to study Fine Arts on a scholarship. After returning from Munich, he became the first Arts master at the newly-opened The Doon School. He remained in Doon for the next 20 years. During this period, he also directed some dance-dramas based on the works of Rabindranath Tagore.
In the year 1937, Sudhir Khastgir proceeded to England where he did a short course in Bronze Casting. 1937 Visited Eric Gill, a sculptor Europe. Sudhir Khastgir spent few months in Italy, Austria, Germany and France and thoroughly inspired by paintings of Van Gogh, his themes being mainly cheerful dancers, santhals, Palash flowers, Amaltash trees. By 1947 he became a well-known social figure in Doon and Mussoorie. In 1950s Sudhir Khastgir did voluminous work. In 1960, the Floods from the Gomti River left his mind under a great physiological and psychological strain. This made him recede into a shell and communicate less. 1961 He built a house in Shantiniketan called Palash and moved there.
In the year 1925, he passed Matric Examination. In the year 1925, he joined Bachelor's course, Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan. In the year, 1929 he graduated under Nandalal Bose, Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan. In the year 1937, he studied bronze casting, London. In the year, 1946 he wrote short articles for the Modern Review, the Orient Illustrated Weekly, and the Illustrated Weekly of India.
Work of Sudhir Khastgir
It was not long before his genuine artistic feeling ensured a high quality of work, both in painting and modelling and he finally started his job with vibrant enthusiasm. His work is marked by a certain sense of robust individuality and his essence of able expression of creation of the numerous spirits of the Indian life. For instance his "Mother and Child" is a powerful composition and original in its character. The head of the woman is of remarkable beauty combined with the intimate tenderness and affection of a mother. In the same style is "Offering" characterised by delicacy of form and exquisite expression. Though the drapery in both the works reveals a slight influence of the early Greek Art, the conception is entirely Indian and original.
"Winter", an old woman sitting near the hearth, is a typical expression of a winter morning. It reveals no influence of any definite School. On the contrary, one sees in it an original style, very bold and impressionistic, and dignified composition.
"The Daughters of the Soil" is, in my opinion, the best of his works produced up till now. There is tremendous force in the whole composition. Simple in its theme, it pulsates with life. The latter two are excellent in sentiment, style, simplicity and beauty. For originality of expression and form, his works are in a class by themselves. It is not out of place to mention here that Sit. Khastgir has only begun his studies two years ago and these works are the result, and he has now undertaken a tour to study South Indian Sculpture. His works were exhibited at the recent exhibition of the Madras Fine Arts Society, and his "Daughters of the Soil" was awarded the first prize for Sculpture.
In the wake of the modern School of Indian Sculpture, young artists are rising and devoting themselves to new methods with enthusiasm; and it is pleasing to note that Santiniketan is concentrating on this Art of late and quite distinctive work is being done by young artists working there.