Manoj Dutta was born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1956. Despite having no formal art education, he soon came to the fore as a talented artist in the late seventies. His art stands out for being rooted in native styles, and indeed, his works look inalienably Indian more often than not. However, he isn’t simply recycling ideas from the traditional or the Bengal schools of art. While relying on traditional ideas of art for visual meaning-formation—particularly folk art—Dutta integrates these modes with a distinct modern sensibility, especially in his treatment of contemporary events.
This volume by the renowned art critic Manasij Majumdar takes as its subject Manoj Dutta, by the author’s own admission one of his favourite artists. Majumdar has admired for many years Dutta’s paintings and drawings, which tend to look spontaneously home-grown, yet modernist at the same time. Today, his works have travelled far and wide, admired and collected by art-lovers worldwide, who appreciate in his art a lucid, unalloyed expression of something very much native to the Indian soil. Based on the collections accessible in Kolkata and Delhi, as well as Dutta’s own collection, the author traces here the major trends in the artist’s oeuvre, revealing its unique blend of “Indianness” and personal idiom.