Contemporary printmaking came to India in 1556, about a hundred years after the first Bible was printed by Guttenberg. Printmaking as a mainstream medium for artistic expression emerged more recently.
Hamsa Damayanti (Circa 1910) by Raja Ravi Varma and Ravi Varma Press, Karla LonavalaThe Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation
Raja Ravi Varma
Ravi Varma was the first artist in India who used printmaking for his art to reach the masses. To achieve this, towards the end of the 19th century, he set up his own lithographic press known as the 'Ravi Varma Press' in Bombay.
Mandodari (Circa 1910) by Ravi Varma Press Karla Lonavala and Raja Ravi VarmaThe Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation
Here he copied several of his religious and secular paintings and printed them as glossy oleographs.
Untitled (1955) by Nandlal BoseKerala Museum
Printmaking became popular in India during 1921 with Nandalal Bose introducing it to Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan. From his visit to China and Japan in 1924, he brought back Chinese rubbings and Japanese colour woodcut prints.
Society of Contemporary Artists
The Society of Contemporary Artists made significant inroads in printmaking in India in the 1960s.
The group was not grounded in any single ideology; its members had very diverse, individual styles, and each created art responding to different themes.
Lalu Prasad Shaw started printmaking, particularly etching, after joining the Society of Contemporary Artists in 1967. He went later on to experiment with lithography as a teacher at Santiniketan. A surprising fact is the existence of these abstract geometrical etchings by Shaw. These works are startlingly different from the figurative paintings that he created later in his career.
Maya - 20 (1991) by Sanat KarKerala Museum
Founder member of the Society of Contemporary Artists, Sanat Kar, is an outstanding printmaker who experimented with a range of unusual materials.
Maya - 18 (1991) by Sanat KarKerala Museum
He is the innovator of the cardboard intaglio technique and sun mica engraving techniques of printmaking.
Radha Series (1991) by Sanat KarKerala Museum
The choice of colours and the contrast of light give the figure a sense of eerie void and melancholy mood. In this work, Radha grips her lover's flute and brushes her cheek against it, expressing how much she longs for Krishna.
Untitled (1978) by Somnath HoreKerala Museum
Somnath Hore began exploring printmaking techniques in the mid-1950s. His works inspired and influenced members of the Society of Contemporary Artists who took up printmaking in the 1960s.
Untitled (1985) by Somnath HoreKerala Museum
Hore's works bear testimony to the social tragedies of the mid-20th century, particularly the Bengal Famine of 1943 and the peasant revolt of 1946. The ravaged bodies of the victims of these disasters became the dominant figures in his prints and sculptures.
Somnath Hore presented this work to Madhavan Nayar Foundation in 1992.
Jyothi Elza George