Bhabesh Chandra Sanyal

Bhabesh Chandra Sanyal, widely known by his initials as B.C. Sanyal, is the nonagenarian doyen of the Capital's art scene. He has known the Indian art scene since the colonial period, through the heyday of Abanindranath Tagore's Neo-Bengal School, the tumultuous decades of Indian modernist movement of the pre-Independence years, and is still working in his own style.

He was born in Assam in and studies sculpture and painting at the Government School of Art and Craft, Calcutta. During his early years in Calcutta, B.C. Sanyal could not subscribe to the ideology of the Bengal School, nor did he take up the Victorian academism as the ultimate artistic expression. His proficiency in sculpture in his individuated style won the young artist a commission to make the statue of Lajpat Rai, the eminent freedom fighter, for the Congress Session in Lahore in 1929. There he settled down and started teaching at the Mayo School of Arts (1929-36). As an energetic and innovative teacher, he inspired aspiring students many of who like Satish Gujral and Krishen Khanna later became eminent Indian modernists of the post-independence period.

In 1936, he left the Mayo School and launched his studio-cum- school, Lahore School of Fine Art, where he freelanced and taught, till 1947 when after the partition of the country he migrated to New Delhi. Here also his 'refugee studio' at the Gole Market he worked and taught, and from this meeting point for promising artists was born the Delhi Shilpi Chakra, the first non-governmental body of artists that started a new era of experimentation under his leadership.

In his paintings particularly landscapes, B.C. Sanyal always sought the simple pictorial essence which he spelt out in terms vibrant freshness of colors, and many of paintings carry an undercurrent of good-humored reminiscences. He had his early show at the Salon de Mai in Paris in 1949, and participated in the Venice Biennial in 1953, and in the same year he joined as Professor and Head of the Department of Art of Delhi Polytechnic, and was advisor to the Government of Nepal for reorganization of the School of Art there. During 1955-56, he took a representative exhibition of Indian art to Eastern European countries. The USSR and Poland. In 1959, on the Leaders Exchange Programme he went on a lecture tour to the USA, Canada and some European countries. During 1960- 69, he was the Secretary, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi exhibited in Sao Paolo, Brazil, attended the International Congress of Art in New York, visited Japan as the guest of the K.B.S. made cultural tours in the Federal Republic of Germany and other European Countries, and participated in the International Congress of art in Tokyo as the leader of the Indian delegation. He went on a study tour to the 'Documents Kessel' in West Germany, visited other art centres in Europe, and studied art works in the Ky and Tabo monasteries in the Spiti Valley for art documentation. In 1980, Lalit Kala Akademi honored B.C. Sanyal with Fellowship, in 1984 he was awarded Padmabhushan by the Government of India. In 1989 the Vishwa Bharati University honoured him with 'Gagan-Aban Award' and the Mayor of the City of Baltimore honored him with Honorary Citizenship. He made a cultural visit to China in 1990.

B. C. Sanyal lives and works in New Delhi.

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Bhabesh Chandra Sanyal
Self Portrait
Watercolor on paper
38" x 26"
1988

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Bhabesh Chandra Sanyal
Woman of the Kangra Valley
Oil on canvas
38" x 26"
1991