Prof. RS Bisht and His Realism in Art 

Sunday, June 20, 2010 5:20:00 PM

- S. P. Verma
Aligarh Muslim University

For his landscape and figure compositions, Professor Bisht owes much to the hilly surroundings of his birth-place. His representation of human figures seeks to imbibe all the strength and characteristics of sculpture.

Professor R. S. Bisht is a landscape painter with a difference. His landscapes are in effect, inscapes. Nature is his first love. He portrays it with a deep understanding of its changing phases and its impact on men and matters. Rooted in the many-sided experiences of the life of our times, his art is at once inspiring and revealing, and it has grown with him, imbibing his personality, in the philosophy of his life. He gives form to a grand spatial concept. His art has evolved into a standard whereby creations of contemporary painters can be judged.

Professor Bisht was soft-spoken and of a delicate and enviable personality, and yet one always found in him an inner struggle for unrevealing the mysteries of earthly bodies. Looking at his landscapes one is spontaneously captivated by a feeling of solitude. His studies in water-colour mostly, belonging to the period 1955-65, bear testimony to a remarkable softness, simplicity and depth. In his characteristic technique of handling colours his art stands out for precision and the totality of impact. The effect of chiaroscuro achieved through blending of colours and details reported in bold strokes show the artist’s control of the medium and his tools. Some of these masterpieces exhibit distinctive trends of the Lucknow school in association with the style of L.M. Sen. The artist’s talent in oil medium became apparent by 1958. His ‘Forest flame’ is remarkable for its realism and richness in colour. This characteristic, according to a well-known art critic, establishes Bisht as a ‘colourist’. He wrote: ‘As a colourist, few are his equal.’

For his landscape and figure compositions, Professor Bisht owes much to the hilly surroundings of his birth-place. His representation of human figures seeks to imbibe all the strength and characteristics of sculpture. His pictures, viz. ‘Madonna and Child’, ‘Jesus in temple’ and ‘Christ in a village’ are unique instances of Christian themes being executed in Indianised form. Bisht’s exotic nudes and the series on ‘Beast and Beauty’ make a class by themselves. According to Indra Chopra, this group of the paintings is the outcome of an artist’s urge for seclusion at one stage. His art often shows a passionate sensitiveness.
His animal-studies in Chinese technique herald a shift towards abstraction. Compositions ‘Rickshaw-puller’, ‘Porter’ and ‘Cook’ are intimate depiction of the common-man. Bisht generally prefers the application of full range of colours along with the glaze technique wherein sometimes light is reflected from a base of lighted surface through one or more layer of transparent paint. While in water-colour, his merit depends in large measure on the quality of brushwork, in his later work (after 1965) the picture plane is better adapted to a flexible use of brush. In the intervening years, a disregard for the common rules of perspective, colour scheme and compositions is the prominent trend where both form and content are subjected to an internationally violent and often complicated idiom.

In his later phase, Bisht seems to be engaged in the pursuit of ‘Realism’ – the essential character of the subject portrayed. It brings him close to impressionism. Here, he develops his concern for classical stability of form and rhythm of contour, enriched by an arbitrary handling of pigment.
His canvasses are the replicas of his inward experiences. Profesor Bisht does not portray; he reacts spontaneously to the object of his experience which finally acquires the shape of his painting. Due to his disposition he remains completely flexible and defiant of the linear growth of his artistic cognition. His creations are unique in the spontaneity of reaction and for the multi-dimensional treatment of forms, as seen in his serials. Not content with a single version of a subject, he delighted in the repetition of forms in a variety of ‘interpretations’; the spontaneity where the eye fails to keep pace with the brush.
In his interpretation of art, Bisht is inclined to agree more with Picasso, than anyone else. He sees painting as a source of intellectual inspiration. In his own words, ‘All my paintings are nothing but the expression of my inner self.’ Professor Bisht’s latest work displays an affinity to the post-impressionistic styles, or more precisely surrealistic. His latest series was conspicuous by the simplification of the subject of treatment, the highest water mark of his contemplative genius. Here complexity of composition is replaced by the intensity of experience through the solitary object of nature (‘Landscapes in Blue’).

Professor Bisht was a man of strong convictions. Propogation of art-consciousness and art-education form the most important part of his mission. He foresaw a grand wedding of painting and performing arts in near future on the national level with Lucknow as the venue.


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