Coups de Coeur: The Guy and Helen Barbier Family Collection

Bikash Bhattacharjee

Evening Class

Auction Closed

October 26, 03:08 PM GMT


20,000 - 30,000 GBP

Lot Details


Coups de Coeur: The Guy and Helen Barbier Family Collection

Bikash Bhattacharjee

1940 - 2006

Evening Class

Oil on canvas

Signed and dated 'Bikash 85' indistinctly lower right and further titled and inscribed '"EVENING CLASS" / ARTIST :- BIKASH BHATTACHARJEE / ADDRESS:- 2D NABO KUMAR RAHA LANE / CALCUTTA - 700004 / INDIA' on reverse

100.5 x 105.4 cm. (39 ½ x 41 ½ in.)

Painted in 1985

Please note that this lot should show a Single Dagger in the catalogue and will be sold under Normal VAT Rules. Please refer to the Conditions of Business for Buyers for more information.
Acquired from Ashok and Sunanda Birla, Bombay, 14 March 1986 
R. Cornu ed., Coups de Coeur, Geneva, 1987, illustration p. 47
Geneva, Halles de l'Ile, Coups de Coeur, 1 July - 22 August 1987

Much of Bikash Bhattacharjee’s work was inspired by his Bengali roots and his experiences in Calcutta. He lost his father as a child and the consequent struggle for survival without his support is often reflected in his work. Children and childhood symbols frequently appear in his works and become metaphors for his loss and the suffering that he witnessed around him. His paintings and drawings often include street scenes, creatures of the night, haunting children and young and middle-class women going about their lives.

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. In the current lot, five girls sit at desks in a classroom. The girls, particularly the two in the foreground, appear to be in a trance-like state. One is left to wonder why the students are in this unnerving condition, namely, who it is that stands before them.

As with his other paintings, in the present work Bhattacharjee uses light and shade to great effect. Here, the shadows of the girls' faces and bodies are contrasted with a fiery orange light which hits them from above, which adds to the unsettling quality of the scene. This sombre and unusual painting, executed in a photo-realistic style, is quintessentially Bikash Bhattacharjee.