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Dynamism in Dhanraj Bhagat’s Sculpture
Anindya Kanti Biswas

Dhanraj has shown an unusual mastery of all the three important art mediums-graphic, plastic and glyptic. His infallible quest for novelty and originality keeps him frequently changing from one medium to another and yet in every field he has reaped a rich harvest. Using clay and plaster in his original efforts, his experiments in wood carvings were inspired by a mere accident.

India has produced many of the brightest luminaries not only in the field of science and literature but also in the field of Fine Art. Dhanraj Bhagat is such a luminary in modern Indian sculpture. He was born in Lahore on 20th December, 1917 and had his early schooling as well as art education in this city. After completing his matriculation examination he was admitted to Lahore Mayo School of Arts in 1934 and studied clay-modeling three years. He did a diploma in sculpture under the tutelage of a grand man and artist Bhabesh Chandra Sanyal. Apart from Progressive Art Group (PGA) production many artist came out from north India are almost directly or indirectly a student of B.C. Sanyal. Presently alive Satish Gujral, Rajesh Mehra, Krishen Khanna, Suraj Ghai, Paramjeet Singh, Arpita Singh, Gopi Gajwani, Jagadish Dey, Umesh Verma and many of the others are the students of Mr. Sanyal. Dhanraj Bhagat taught for sometime in the Mayo School of Art after completing his Diploma course. In 1937 his work, Kashmiri "Kashmiri Labourer Taking Rest" won the first prize for modeling in the exhibition held by the Punjab Fine Arts Society. This work is now in the Aligarh University Museum. He won the first prize again in 1939 with his piece "Despair ". In 1945, he accidentally discovered his aptitude for wood carving, while watching a professional worker making a decorative panel. In the 1946 exhibition of the Punjab Fine Arts Society, he won both the first and second prizes, the former going to his clay study of a group of sheep and the later to his wood carving, the Bride.

Turning Point: The year 1946 brought an important turning point in his life. His sculptures which were exhibited at the International Exhibition, New Delhi, impressed the Principal of the Delhi Polytechnic, Art Department, who offered him the post of a teacher in his department. Since then Bhagat has been on the staff of the Polytechnic teaching claymodeling. Dhanraj has shown an unusual mastery of all the three important art mediums-graphic, plastic and glyptic. His infallible quest for novelty and originality keeps him frequently changing from one medium to another and yet in every field he has reaped a rich harvest. Using clay and plaster in his original efforts, his experiments in wood carvings were inspired by a mere accident. After partition of the country Dhanraj lived in Delhi throughout the rest of his life. He has been a professional sculptor since 1957. He also worked as an artist for a while in the Government of India. According to Art-Historian Ratan Parimoo-"The third pioneer I may compare with Pansare and
Ramkinkar is Dhanraj Bhagat, who began doing wood carvings around 1950 and in then he was the first to absorb the simplicity and the naivette of Negro sculpture. Bhagat himself regards modeling and wood carving as his major pursuits. Nevertheless, his painting, though he regards it as a hobby, has distinct artistic merits. Sweetness was the characteristic of his early manner, when his imagination turned with nostalgic yearnings towards the traditional legends of the land, to the beauty and pathos, the poetry and tragedy of the tale Hir Ranja

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