Profile of Hemen Mazumdar

 

Born in Bengal, now in Bangladesh, Hemen Mazumdar studied at the Government School of Arts (GSA), Kolkata (1910) and later at Jubilee Art School, Kolkata (1911-15). As part of his formal training, he mastered the Western Academic style of painting adapted to an Indian subject matter as a whole, and female portraits in particular. However, he was also known to be an accomplished landscape painter.

Apart from a series of noteworthy solo shows including Bombay Art Exhibition, Mumbai (1921); Barna Jhankar, Chennai (1922); Kardame Kamal, Mumbai (1923); Eden Gardens, Kolakata (1930); Chowringee Terrace, inaugurated by Queen of Coochbehar, Kolkata (1940), his work featured in many posthumous exhibitions, such as ‘Manifestations II, III, IV’, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi (2010, 2005, 2004); and Eden Garden, Kolakata (1951), among others. The honours, awards and milestone moments in his illustrious career included presence as Court Artist of Maharaja of Patiala (1932-38); and First Prize, Bombay Art Exhibition, Mumbai (1921, 22). When the King of England toured India in 1911, the students of the School of Art were asked to design, build as well as decorate a celebratory gate by Principal Havell as a mark of loyal welcome to the monarch. He decorated the Gates to welcome the king.

Drawing inspiration from the turn of events at that point of time, many academic artists like Bhabani Charan Laha, Atul Bose and Hemendranath himself joined the Ranadaprasad Gupta's Jubilee Art Academy, in a sort of break-away gesture. The latter became aware of the need to follow one's own instincts instead of simply sticking to a particular group or movement.

Subsequently, Hemen Mazumdar emerged as one of the select few artists of the early twentieth century from India who enjoyed both critical appreciation and monetary success. He founded the `Indian Academy of Art' (IAFA) in 1919 at his residence in Kolkata, along with Jogeshchandra Seal, Bhabani Charan Law, Atul Bose, and Jamini Roy as well as published the journal ('Shilpi' was co-published by A C Mukhopadhyay.) First tri-monthly journal of the academy was published in 1920. It introduced many upcoming artists and printed reproductions of their works in full colour.

The art journal also published thought provoking essays on contemporary art trends by renowned artists. He also unveiled a picture-album, 'Indian Masters'. The paintings of many of the important artists of that key phase from all across the subcontinent were reproduced in it. The Maharaja of Kashmir invited him in 1931 to live and paint in Kashmir. He was known for a memorable painting ‘Cure of all Ills’ that he painted during illness, portraying Mahatma Gandhi spinning thread. ‘Lady with Lamp - Loneliness of woman’ was his other memorable work. His paintings feature in various significant public and private art collections. Hemen Mazumdar died in 1948.