Lot 46
  • 46

BIKASH BHATTACHARJEE | Untitled (School Children)

30,000 - 50,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Bikash Bhattacharjee
  • Untitled (School Children) 
  • Signed and dated indistinctly 'Bikash '76' lower right
  • Oil on paper laid on board
  • 76.2 x 88.3 cm. (30 x 34 ¾ in.)
  • Painted in 1976


Private Collection, Portugal
Sotheby's London, 8 October 1996, lot 88
Private Collection, Karachi
Christie's New York, 20 September 2006, lot 141


Darmstadt, Kunsthalle Darmstadt, Indische Kunst heute, 11 July - 15 August 1982


Exhibition catalogue, Indische Kunst heute, Roetherdruck, Darmstadt, 1982, unpaginated

Catalogue Note

Much of Bikash Bhattacharjee’s work was inspired by his Bengali roots and his experiences in Calcutta. The political, economic and social hardships he witnessed as a child played a significant role in his choice of subject matter. His paintings and drawings often include street scenes, creatures of the night, haunting children, prostitutes scanning for customers, and middle-class women going about their lives. The raw subject matter, an amalgamation of reality and fantasy, reveals his tainted outlook of the world, informed by his own suffering of losing his father at a young age and growing up in Calcutta, bearing witness to the struggles of society around him. Each of his works invites the viewer to delve into the context and deeper symbolism behind these creations. It can be argued that Bhattacharjee was uninterested in the appeal of a conventionally aesthetic painting, but rather aimed to portray the dark reality of a certain strata of lives in Calcutta.

Bhattacharjee provides insight into his perception of reality through his present work as well as his Doll Series. Bhattacharjee conceived the Doll Series after witnessing countless deaths of innocent civilians in his neighbourhood of North Calcutta. This had a profound effect on the artist, inspiring his harrowing yet powerful series of doll-like figures aiming to represent the lost innocence of young victims as a result of the brutal militancy that engulfed him. This current work highlights the limitations placed on the youth in the political climate of Calcutta in the seventies. Grey androgynous bodies of children with blurry eyes sit at desks in what appears to be a classroom setting, their distorted bodies leaving them debilitated. By blurring and closing the eyes of the central figures of his works, he is arguably eliminating the focus on the individual and asking us to meditate on the plight of society as a whole. Helpless victims of circumstance, the figures in the present work provide a critique of social reality from the artist’s viewpoint. The naked children with missing limbs and appendages, the strange and varying food items on each desk, all contribute to this sombre and unusual setting that is quintessentially Bhattacharjee.