Travels from Japan to Bengal

The wash technique has come to be associated in India with the art of the Bengal School, but the story of its origins in India takes us back to an era of rich cultural exchanges. In the early twentieth century artists like Abanindranath Tagore were trying to imagine a pan-Asian cultural identity, and they turned for inspiration to traditions from across Persia to Japan. Rabindranath Tagore's friendship with Okakura Kakuzō occasioned the arrival of several Japanese artists in Kolkata, such as Yokoyama Taikan, Hishida Shunsō and Katsuta Shōkin. While the latter found inspiration in the Hindu epics, artists in Bengal adapted techniques that were used by the Japanese, such as the wash technique or the subtle use of ink and brush. Since then, the wash technique has been interpreted widely by individual artists, offering an ethereal quality of light to their works, or, in some cases, like for Gaganendranath Tagore and Prosanto Roy, new possibilities of painting in various shades of darkness.