1870 - 1937

Laxman Narain Taskar’s paintings mirror the ideals of academic realism introduced by the British within their art education system. Indian artists were trained in naturalism, with lessons in soft effects of chiaroscuro and the three-dimensionality of the external world. History painting, perspective, and the copying of Victorian portraits became a vital ingredient within these art schools.

In 1898, Taskar joined the Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay as an art teacher. Adopting the style of objective accuracy, formal order and an interest in visual narration, his paintings concentrated on ‘slices of everyday life’. They became a tool for reflecting upon contemporary social reality, where he soon replaced mythological figures with common people in their local environments. Moods of festivities, celebration and local people engaged in rituals and routines were all lucidly portrayed by him through the use of vibrant colours. The women are often shown in familial or community settings, and rarely as private beings. In defiance of the academic norms of the time, Taskar is one of the few artists who painted subjects such as courtesans, staring confidently out of the frame, as opposed to the usually passive portrayals.

Despite the rigid academic discipline inherent in art schools, Taskar made several departures from his training in the transparent water colour technique. Sometimes, his oils adopt the lightness and airiness of his watercolours. The visibility of the pencil drawing underneath enhances the formal construction of the work, energising the outdoor atmosphere with a soothing lightness. Taskar’s works were part of several collections, the most prominent of which is that of Sir Ganga Singhji Bahadur, the Maharaja of Bikaner.