The ‘Contextual Modernism’ in the Silk Paintings of Maniklal Banerjee

Ashmita Mukherjee

Research Scholar, Jadavpur University. Email:

 Volume 1, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/cjad.12.v1n205


The paper tries to analyze the silk paintings of Maniklal Banerjee (1917-2002) who was greatly influenced by the artists of the so-called Bengal school of art. The school started by Abanindranath Tagore did not remain confined to its own time and space, but grew into dynamic new modernisms over a span of nearly a century. Art historian Sivakumar invoked a number of artists of Santiniketan and called it a “contextual modernism”. The paper tries to re-read the spirit of Santiniketan artists on the more recent and un-researched art of Maniklal Banerjee- who contextualized in his own way the Bengal ‘school’ that had by now turned into a ‘movement’. The spirit of freedom runs at the core of this movement and finds a new language in the late twentieth century artist’s renderings of daily life and Puranic narrations.

Keywords: Bengal School, Maniklal Banerjee, Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Indian art, Puranic art, aesthetics