As part of his quest to forge a distinctive national artistic identity, Das combined expressionist spontaneity and subjectivity with local motifs and subjects. Like Roy, he trained at the Government College of Art and Craft in Calcutta (Kolkata), but he then pursued further studies at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Das would become an influential member of the Calcutta-based Society of Contemporary Artists, a collective founded in 1960 that provided a platform for emerging Bengali artists and introduced new media such as printmaking to a wider public.
Das is perhaps best known for his dynamic studies of horses and bulls. In this work, Das’s subject is Shiva, the Hindu god of cosmic destruction and transformation. Serpents, iconographical attributes of Shiva, writhe around the multiple faces that are representative of the god’s different aspects. Das rendered five of these faces with the dramatic, gestural line common to his repertoire, yet for the central visage he adapted the iconic, abbreviated style associated with popular ritual images from eastern India and Nepal, including village artists’ depictions of Hindu gods on view nearby.
arrows; faces; red; snakes; symbolism; teeth
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