Nikhil Biswas (b 1930) - (d 1966)
Nikhil Biswas is now a forgotten name in Indian Art & here lies the paradox in Indian modernism as art institutions are underdeveloped & museums are under-resourced. Regarded today as a trailblazer,his drawings are marked by their frenetic energy of line which decries a controlled emotional frenzy.His drawings are driven by the tyranny of the line,a frenetic mark-making which enabled him to pour his pain into his work.
His death at the cruel age of 36 when he was at the brink of success,came as a cruel shock to the world of art.He became well known & foreigners living in India began to take notice of his work as they had earlier in the case of Jamini Roy. He was even nicknamed Jamini Roy Junior by his artist friends.There was a tinge of envy,perhaps malice in some of their voices.
As he could not afford canvas & paint,he fell back on buying sheets of drawing paper & brown paper & used ordinary writing & Chinese ink to paint is feelings. As an artist,he never complained about his poverty nor did he lament about his inability to buy colour or canvas,such was his dedication to art. At the end of his life he left behind a vast oeuvre which is marked by fabulous drawings known for their dynamic energy & sheer force which is quite unchallenged till date.
Nikhil Biswas’s art started with the human condition.During the communal upheaval in Bengal of 1946-47,Nikhil was just a boy of 15.It was these experiences which pulled him towards a more direct & impetuous mark-making.The communal brutality that he saw during his youth made its way into his combat series where the picturesque world of his boyhood has evaporated before his eyes & was replaced by pain & struggle in his incisive lines of his later works.