Mukul Dey

Mukul Dey was one of the first artists to explore the possibilities of printmaking beyond its life as a tool of the colonial enterprise. He was introduced to printmaking by W. W. Pearson, and began engraving copper plates creating a soft dry point. Working at a time when art and culture were caught in ideological strifes, Mukul Dey opted to trace the ‘golden past’ on his extensive travels within India, sketching and drawing various monuments, and contributing to journals like Prabasi, Modern Review, Bharatvarsa and Bharati. A spell at art schools in England deepened his interest in printmaking, and upon his return to India as the principal of Government College of Art & Craft, Calcutta, he avidly took up the cause of printmaking. In 1916, he became the first Indian artist to be elected a member of the Chicago Society of Etchers, and illustrated W. W. Pearson’s book Shantiniketan. In 1917, Dey’s drawings were published and he published his My Reminiscences in 1938. In 1942, he started the women’s department at the College of Art & Craft, Calcutta, and in 1956-58 he became curator at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. In 1987, Dey became a fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.

Remembered also for his superbly executed portraits Tagores, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Sven Hedin and so on, Dey’s work throughout his life remained firmly embedded in the Orientalist matrix. Besides the nationalist discourse which informed his imagery, Dey’s language evolved out of his negotiations as a temporary immigrant in England. Subjects from mythology engraved in dry point and hand-coloured to add a sense of immediacy became his forte. It is this artist’s pioneering efforts that gave wing to the fledgling medium of printmaking in India.

Introduced to printmaking by W. W. Pearson, Mukul Dey was one of the first artists to explore the possibilities of printmaking beyond its role as a tool of the colonial enterprise. At a time of ideological strife in art and culture, Dey traced the nation’s ‘golden past’ through visually documenting it on extensive travels. A spell at art schools in England deepened his interest in printmaking, and upon his return to India as the principal of Government School of Art, Calcutta, he actively promoted the medium.

In 1916, he became the first Indian artist to be elected a member of the Chicago Society of Etchers, and published several volumes of his etchings and illustrations in the subsequent decades. From 1956-58, he served as curator of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, and a fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, in 1987.

Remembered also for his superb portraits of eminent personalities like the Tagores, and Sven Hedin, Dey’s work throughout his life remained firmly embedded in the Orientalist matrix. Subjects from mythology engraved in dry point and hand-coloured became his forte. His pioneering efforts gave wings to the fledging medium of printmaking in India.

Artwork for Sale

Gopala milking the cow
by Mukul Dey

Size:

9 X 12 inches

Thrashing flour
by Mukul Dey

Size:

8 X 12 inches