Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Print - Wounds

Wounds

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    Bengal (made)

  • Date:

    1977 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hore, Somnath, born 1921 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Moulded paper pulp, painted with ink

  • Museum number:

    IS.10-1990

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The work is an example of the paper pulp print series 'Wounds' which the artist began to make from the 1970s alongside his sculptural work. This series represents the visual culmination of exploring the theme of war, starvation and human suffering. The prints were made from moulded cement matrices (the moulds were taken from originals made in clay), on uncoloured paper pulps, which form into paper on the matrix. In this work, one can detect some organic shapes, in low relief, and contortions of the paper surface amid flat or mildly textured spaces of white paper, having some gestural protrusions. The shapes and the contortions suggest an organic dynamism, evoking associations of birth, decay and death. The left-out spaces around the hollow areas are porous and freckled and can thus be likened to the quality of the human skin. In this context, the pulp print becomes tactile as well as visual, generating an overall sense of discomfort in the viewer.

Somnath Hore (1921-2006) was born in the village of Barama in Chittagong, now in Bangladesh. He started drawing at a very early age and took up painting more seriously around 1940 in Calcutta. He was an active member of the Communist Party of India (CPI) for the early part of his life. Hore was profoundly affected by the Bengal famine of 1943. Since his early personal experience of this man-made famine, in which over 3 million people died of starvation and malnutrition, his life-long concern has been the representation of human suffering. The accumulated effects if years of communal violence, World War II, the partition of India, and the violent and political conflicts of the 1970s, both at home and in Vietnam have influenced his work.

Physical description

The work is an example of the paper pulp print series 'Wounds' which the artist began to take from the 1970s alongside his sculptural work. This series represents the visual culmination of exploring the theme of war, starvation and human suffering. The prints were made from moulded cement matrices (the moulds were taken from originals made in clay), on uncoloured paper pulps, which form into paper on the matrix.

In this work, one can detect some organic shapes, in low relief, and contortions of the paper surface amid flat or mildly textured spaces of white paper, having some gestural protrusions. The shapes and the contortions suggest an organic dynamism, evoking associations of birth, decay and death. The left-out spaces around the hollow areas are porous and freckled and can thus be likened to the quality of the human skin. In this context, the pulp print becomes tactile as well as visual, generating an overall sense of discomfort in the viewer.

Place of Origin

Bengal (made)

Date

1977 (made)

Artist/maker

Hore, Somnath, born 1921 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Moulded paper pulp, painted with ink

Marks and inscriptions

'Somnath Hore 1977' in bottom right hand corner. 'Artist's proof' in bottom left hand corner and title in bottom middle.

Dimensions

Height: 50 cm, Width: 60.5 cm

Object history note

Purchased from Mrs Sarah Abraham. RF: 84/106 and 1997/861

Historical context note

Somnath Hore (1921-2006) was born in the village of Barama in Chittagong, now in Bangladesh. He started drawing at a very early age but took up painting more seriously around 1940 in Calcutta. During his time in Calcutta, the artist began handwriting posters for the then banned Communist Party of India (CPI). The neat ink and brush posters were put up in the industrial areas of the city to foster solidarity amongst workers and increase party membership.

In 1943, encouraged by the CPI party leader, P. C. Joshi, Hore and lithographer Bhattacharya Chittaprosad, started documenting the victims of the Bengal Famine through sketches and drawings. During the man-made famine, (largely caused by British inaction), an estimated three million people died of starvation and malnutrition. The inhumanity of the famine had a profound and long-lasting impact on Hore, spurring him to publish his visual records in the CPI magazine Jannayuddha (People's War).

In 1946, Hore published his first major work entitled the Tebhaga diary (1946). Written and illustrated along the lines of Chittaprosad’s Hungry Bengal, the diary documents the Tebhaga Movement, denoting the widespread spirit of peasant consciousness and militant solidarity. Increasingly, Hore’s creative energies followed the contours of his Leftist political activism and social beliefs, with the role of the artist as an agent of progressive change. Closely involved in the struggle, the Tebhaga experience remained a source of inspiration for Hore as did the barbarity of the Bengal Famine.

Later at the insistence of P. C. Joshi, Hore was admitted to the Government College of Art & Craft in Calcutta. At the College, the artist learned the methods and nuances of printmaking, mainly lithography and intaglio. From 1954 onwards, he experimented significantly with the printmaking process. He admired the expressionist work of Austrian artist Kathe Kollwitz, the visual militancy of socialist realist painters and Picasso’s cubism. Around 1954, disillusioned with the CPI, Hore gave up political activism altogether, joining the Indian College of Art and Draftsmanship in Calcutta as a lecturer, and in 1956, he did not renew his membership with the CPI.

In 1958, Hore moved to teach at the Delhi Polytechnic, (later Delhi College of Art) and around 1967 became a visiting Professor at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. He joined Kala Bhavan, the art faculty of Visva Bharati University at Santiniketan in 1969, as the Professor of Graphic Arts. In this context, the artist became a close associate of sculptor Ramkinkar Baij and artist K.G. Subramanyan. In 1970 Hore became a member of the Society of Contemporary Artists in Calcutta. The artist spent the rest of his life at Santiniketan.

During his life, the artist explored a variety of techniques including etching, intaglio, drawing and lithography. In 1971 Hore’s creative experiments with these techniques culminated in the first abstract paper pulp series, ‘Wounds’. The series, which commented on the political turbulence of the times such as the rise communalism, the Naxalite movement, casteism and the impending threat of a nuclear holocaust, reflected a shift from visual immediacy to pure abstraction. In his view, ‘wounds’ stood for human suffering, irrespective of the specificity of incidents. In Hore’s words: “Wounds is what I see everywhere around me. A scarred tree, a road gouged by a truck tyre, a man knifed for no visible or rational reason”. From 1974 whilst at Santiniketan, Hore began sculpting in bronze. The artist developed a style that made use of sharp, rugged surfaces and rough planes. To evoke the anguished and starving bodies of the rural peasants he sculpted elongated and skeletal-looking bronze figurines covered with slits and holes. One of his largest sculptures titled ‘Mother with Child’, (1977), which paid homage to the spirit of the people's struggle in Vietnam, was stolen from the Kala Bhavan soon after it was finished.

Hore continued to create works inspired by the theme of human suffering until his death in 2006.

Descriptive line

Print, Wounds, by Somnath Hore, print, moulded paper, Bengal, 1977

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Patel Divia, India and Pakistan: Contemporary Prints, Exhibition leaflet, 1997.
Art of Bengal: A Vision Defined 1955-1975, ed. Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Centre of International Modern Art, Kolkata and Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, 2002, pp 73-79.
Somnath Hore, Contemporary Indian Art Series, Lalit Kala Akademi, 1980.
Somnath Hore, Tebhaga, Lalit Kala Akademi, 1980.
J. Appasamy, The Graphic Art of Somnath Hore, Lalit Kala Contemporary 11, 1972, pp 29-31.

Labels and date

One of India's most important artists, Hore's life-long concern has been the representation of human suffering. He was greatly affected by his personal experience of the Bengal famine of 1943 and other events including World War II, the communal riots in India in 1946 leading to Partition in 1947 and, much later, the civil unrest at home and the Vietnam war. The 'wounds' series represents the culmination of thirty years of exploring this theme and presents a simple and powerful symbol of the suffering of all humanity.

Paper pulp is placed on to moulded cement matrices where it forms into paper. The cement matrices are taken from moulded clay. These are not conventional prints using ink but the image can be repeated using the same mould. []

Materials

Paper; Paper mache; Ink

Techniques

Painted; Moulded

Subjects depicted

Pain

Categories

Prints; Paintings; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Production Type

Limited edition

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.