There are two personalities of Ramkinker Baij available to us, today,

in the first decade of the twentieth century. The first one is rather

simplistic. In the sculpture departments of art schools of

India—perhaps in all of them—he is present there as an eccentric,

emotional and hence intense artist whose works appear to be the only

reason for his eccentricities and his lifestyle . It is the second or

third generation of his followers, now professing in teaching

sculpture, who would ascribe him as an example of an artist ‘intensely

involved in creative expression’ as if there is no life for an artist

beyond creating art and if it does, it is as if not of much

importance. The ‘ process’ of his work is what is stressed in such

cases. There ends his importance as an artist or rather, ‘the means

becomes the end’. However, who is it that categorises that “Ramkinker

(according to practicing artists) is a means misinterpreted as the

end”? A theoretician? Perhaps not.




The ‘final analysis’ of his works, is, by and large, is left to the

consideration of theoreticians (by the practitioners) as though art

and its history are two different aspects. The former considers the

latter only as an ‘attachment’, a catalyst and hence outside

itself–in the case of Ramkinker. The latter considers the former’s

notion as fictious and empirical, incomplete. Both the fictious

empiricity and ‘conclusive’ theorization are, actually, two kind of

(only) ‘constructs’ about the artist. Metaphorically there are the two

Ramkinkers who have been available to us, till date, by and large.

This would continue to be so, if there is no further intervention

beyond these two constructs. These two Baijs are available to us

chiefly from ‘within’ the institutions of power structures.




The second personality of Ramkinker comes to us through the

theoreticians*1*, mainly located ‘within’ the power structure of

Tagorean Bengal province, a district within which the artist himself

hailed from. From a birds’ eye view, what the academic practitioners

of theory of sculpture in art schools teach is endorsed, legitimized,

rectified and put into an order that can be easily termed as mature

analysis of his works. For these theoreticians Ramkinker outside his

works occupy a ‘silent zone’. There are more than one, perhaps

multiple meanings that can be assigned to this silence regarding his

personal lifestyle. The theoreticians don’t want to evoke his

‘presence’ beyond   his creative abilities, whose products are

literally crumbling within the megalithic structure of Bengal school.

The man between his childhood and genius is submerged in this silent





The two Ramkinkers available are both artists. My concern is to find

out whether there is a third Ramkinker outside the available

constructs and possibly beyond any kind of constructs at all. If

he—the third Ramkinker da exists—how is he available to us, that too

beyond the bounds of he-as- representation through (a) pedagogical

spoken narratives and (b) verbal, formal analysis?




There is a problem with the existing Ramkinker. The possibility and

limitation of the capacity of the pedagogicians (both speakers and

writers) is also the outer limits of such represented dual-Ramkinker.

If and when such a representation continues—which seems to continue,

for various reasons–he will continue to be visible to us as a whole,

even before he is constituted through these two media. That is why we

know Ramkinker who fits into that romantic biographical models a la

Vincent Van Gogh*




 Thus the Ramkinker that we know today is the RK who is a dual

‘construct’. Kant’s notion of neumina, for instance, should help us in

the belief of the existence of the artist even beyond his









I would like to depict the third Ramkinker through a story. It is the

story of a novel, “Odalaala” (literally meaning the ‘depth of the

tummy’ and actually means ‘from the innermost self’) perhaps the

shortest novel in an Indian language*. The novel by Devanuru Mahadeva

in Kannada is the story of a hungry, poverty ridden family. A family

member brings in a sack of groundnut in the dark of the night, out of

nowhere.   The ‘bring’ in the previous sentence might or might not be

a theft. Yet the police follow, lock the door of their house from

outside and awaits reinforcement. When the police check the whole

house, dig and search in darkness, what they find is the ‘absence’ of

any evidence of theft. The only evidence of the theft is seen on the

poor people’s face—happy, contempt and sure about the lack of evidence

of a theft. It is a








Amongst these two, the first one is more legitimized, endorsed and is

accountable. The second point is basically used as a point of

inspiration, more than anything. The difference between the two

Ramkinker lies exactly here: a defined artist as against an ever

altering artist whose inspiration is due to the presence of his spirit

within the speaker, at that point of time and space. The two

Ramkinkers are also a product of an age old preoccupation of the

philosophers till date: the spoken and the written biography.




Is there a third Ramkinker, who has not been spoken about or written

about? This is a tricky question within which lies another question

that doubts the assured nature of art writing and teaching, today, in

the pan Indian context.




I would like to place three Indian artists belonging to three

successive generations, who could be termed as eccentrics, bohemians.

But if one starts questioning the base of such categorizations, we

will realize that we are definitely being pro-intellectuals which also

means that we are definitely ‘sympathetic’ to whom we are terming as

eccentrics and bohemians. Ramkinker Baij, J.Swaminathan and

R.M.Hadapad are the three artists that I am mentioning, in an order

which many might accept as the one that moves from popularity to





Has there ever been an attempt to tell the story of the ‘other’

through their own terms? The subaltern, the natives etc., are already









*1* K.G.Subramanyan, Janak Jankar Narzery and R. Siva Kumar are the

major theoreticians who legitimize the eccentric personality of

Ramkinker, from within the premise of rational and logical. However,

these three writers hail from mutually different backgrounds that

keeps alive a tension between their writings in English, their earlier

life experiences and mother tongue that creates various, often even

deviant frameworks for them to view Ramkinker. (a) An autobiographical

reference, (b) a first person enquiry of these writers are the two

things that are pushed into the ‘silent zone’ by them


not fully addressing them. The annual ‘Nandan’ issues are the prime

sites of references for students of art regarding this artist. So it

is a definite patriarchal, hegemonic order that creates a silent zone

within which several, often mutually contradictory anecdotes that

could help one to ‘visualise’ Ramkinker better is what has been

negated by the writers.