HEMANTA MISRA: (1917-2009)

Hemanta Misra was born in Sivasagar, Assam,  on the 13th of October, 1917.  His father was Pandit Gauridutta Misra Vidyabhusan and his mother was Girija Devi. Hemanta Misra had his school education in Sivasagar and Guwahati  and later studied in Cotton College and  St Edmund’s, Shillong. He was married to Bina Misra, a teacher and  writer.   Primarily a self-taught artist, Hemanta Misra during his college days took a correspondence course in art from the well known British artist,  John Hassall, R.I. of England. The rather strict  academic methods of the British School gave Misra the proper foundation in drawing and sketching,--something which came to great use later on when he emerged as a pioneer of surrealism in the country. The first phase of his artistic career was taken up in producing brilliant landscapes and sketches where he displayed his mastery over form and colour.  It was in the early fifties that Hemanta Misra held his first solo exhibition in Kolkata and, on the strength of his drawings alone, was elected in 1953  a member of the  prestigious  Calcutta Group of Painters which was responsible for breaking away from the Bengal School and  ushering in the era of modernism in Indian art. Misra’s second period  was marked by experimentations in cubism which  had a strange mystic touch. From a largely cubist style handled in a mystic manner, Hemanta Misra soon moved into the domain of surrealism where he proved himself to be a virtual master by developing a new vocabulary of his own. . Critics have commented on the unique nature of his surrealism where the dream world of the absurd finds expression through a subtle blend  of  mysticism and poetry. Misra’s application of colours in his surrealistic paintings has attracted a lot of critical acclaim because his  colours  seem to effortlessly merge into the atmosphere without crying for their separate existence of their own. It has been commented that the  abstracted harmony of colour juxtaposed into the inner content of a mystic message give a  completely distinct character into his paintings. It has been said that Hemanta Misra’s surrealism has an inherent Indianness in it because of its treatment of colour, its tonal variations, style of delineation and the nature of  its images.   Hemanta  Misra’s contribution towards placing Assam on the art map of the country  has been an immense one. Hemanta Misra was also a poet and writer. Amongst his publications are: Bharatiya Chitrakala ( in Assamese, 1978), Rupar Antarat Roop (a book of poems in Assamese with the artist’s own drawings , 1990), Dikhow Luit Aru Sagar( an autobiographical work in Assamese ). The  celebrated artist  passed away in Guwahati on the 31st of December, 2009.