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Somnath Hore

Indian Modern Artist
Born 1921, Chittagong, Bangladesh
Died 2006
Lived and worked in India

Somnath Hore is one of the pioneers of the twentieth century art movement in India. His figurations and abstract works reflect the struggles of the anguished human form. His experiments with various print-making techniques and mediums such as etching, intaglio and lithographs led him to develop a new medium called ?ulp-prints?to depict man? inhumanity towards man in his ?ound?series.



Diploma in Fine Arts, Government College of Art and Craft, Kolkata

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Hore's figuration have always reflected the anguished human form

Somnath Hore’s entire oeuvre revolves around the theme of human sufferings. The tragedies of the Bengal Famine, communal riots, partition during British Rule that the artist experienced and endured affected his work greatly.

Wounds are all he could see around him. So in a crack in the earth, he saw a dire menace; in fissures in the wall, he recalls a gaping wound. With faces whose flesh sinks into the bone; whose chests cannot find enough skin to hide their hollow nakedness; the skinny dogs and cows that kept them languid company. His figuration and abstract work’s visual appeal is enhanced by the rough surfaces, slits, holes and exposed channels. These works remain as a document and a testimony to the artist’s ability to record the heights of human sufferings and to endow the downtrodden with subjectivity.

Somnath Hore, Untitled, 1986, watercolour and sketch pen on paper, 14 x 9.5”

Hore experimented significantly with the printmaking process

Somnath Hore was not only considered an important print-maker, he was also a versatile printer and sculptor who expressed his own personal angst about the acts of violence that he experienced during his life. He even developed the “pulp-print” technique of printmaking and that, along with his inventive experiments with etching, intaglio, and lithographs culminated in the “Wound series”. The white on white prints, dramatized with red spots, reflected the political turbulence of the times. Prints were taken with paper pulp pressed on moulded cement matrices. The moulds were made from originals done in clay.

1974 onwards, he began doing bronze sculptures. The torn, rugged surfaces, rough planes with slits and holes, exposed channels and subtle modelling, all made for exciting visual and tactile sculptures.

Somnath Hore, Untitled (Wound Series), 1972, cast on handmade paper, 19 x 12.5”

Hore envisaged the human sufferings in his intaglio prints

The turbulent times that Somnath Hore experienced and endured including the Bengal Famine, the turmoil of partition and the painful battle for independence from British rule are all evident in this “Untitled” intaglio print. The rich textures and composition indicates a nightmarish beauty. The figurative abstraction is indicative of the dismembered torsos and limbs, ribcages bursting through starved skin, howls of agony and worn-out existences.

The stark imagery of this intaglio reveals that the struggles Hore endured weighed upon his mind and strongly affected his work.

Somnath Hore, Untitled, 1965

Suffering - A theme Hore explored throughout his lifetime

Somnath Hore’s ‘Wounds’ Series is a depiction of man’s inhumanity towards man. The Bengal famine of 1943, the communal riots of 1946, the devastations of War, all the wounds and wounded that Hore had witnessed, were engraved on his consciousness. He confessed his obsession with human suffering and that ‘wounds’ is what he saw all around him. A scarred tree, a man knifed for no rational reason, a road gauged by a truck tyre - all this led to a new concept. The object was cast out, only wounds remained.

In this series, the printmaking process itself reflects his experiences of violence and agony. He used knives and red-hot rods to cut and burn into a piece of clay, which was then used as a base for a cement mould to shape and scar the paper pulp. His dexterity to evolve a visual generalization of human suffering was a constant motivation in his creative oeuvre.

Somnath Hore, Untitled, 1977, lithograph on paper, 13 x 17”