Ramkinkar Baij came from a rural background to study art under Nandalal Bose at Visva Bharati, Santiniketan. Ramkinkar was discovered to have an innate genius for form and for experimenting with visual language. A wonderful portraitist, Ramkinkar did not paint or sculpt portraits as commissions, but because he was attracted to something in their inner self. Similarly, his formal experiments were quite radical just as his use of new material quite daring and challenging.
‘Picnic’, an oil painting, shows how skillfully Ramkinkar could blend the European modernist idiom with that of Indian classical tradition. The voluminous figuration combines the aesthetic values of both cultures. The painting shows three women in an open air-setting. The woman standing with her leg around the tree trunk is reminiscent of the Yakshis, or tree spirits, of traditional sculpture. Similarly, the seated woman with a stringed musical instrument called the esraj is close to the trope of a woman painted or sculpted with a musical instrument. However, the geometric, almost semi-abstract lines are very modernistic. The sensuousness of the image has a haunting vibrancy.