He makes a very dynamic Principal (College of Arts and Crafts, Chennai) and a free-expressions artist who understands today’s art market. And he never fails to impart his knowledge of marketable art to his students. He also makes a very good rebel in the sense that he refuses to derive meanings from his works, he refuses to explain himself. He refuses to let his paintings preach to the viewer.
Painter R. B. Bhaskaran is one of the most experienced and talented of artists in India. The rebel in him comes forth not just in his works, but in real life as well. He is among those artists in South India to participate in the Madras Art Movement of the 1960s and also among the first to rebel against the concept of ‘Nativism’ propagated by K.C.S. Panniker, the idea that one must consciously evolve an Indian style by introducing Indian motifs and themes into one’s work. He does not believe that Indian paintings should look Indian. He does not see why they should. He is completely at home with the 17th century works of Diego Velázquez and their future alter egos – the Cubist portrayals of objects by Pablo Picasso and the colour/shape experiments of Paul Cézanne. He derives from them flamboyantly to complete the forms on his canvas. His fresco training at Bhanasthali Vidyapeeth in Rajasthan takes more than a good peep into his canvases alongside Velázquez and Picasso. The shift is noticeable but the end result is an effortless beauty that stands in a space of its own. To know Bhaskaran’s paintings, you need to know the artist. Bhaskaran and his paintings share the same quality – a certain ruggedness, pleasant rakishness and an unusual dynamism. There is usually a lot happening on his every canvas, but they each of these elements have their own space, they coexist without influencing or taking the magic away from the others. For example, the tribal-like designs are everywhere but strangely they do not interfere with the rest of the painting at all. Do not miss the mixed media wedding portraits titled ‘Couple’ that are derived from wall-hanging marriage portraits at almost every Indian home and his signature work involving his beloved cat.
R B Bhaskaran lives and works out of Chennai.