Fauvism – Colourful Emotions

“The name, Les Fauves was actually first used as a derogatory remark about their work by French art critic Louis VauxcellesLes Fauves actually means “wild beasts”— it referred to Matisse and the others’ choice of colour, indicating that their work was savage and primitive.”


Fauvism is a modern art which is defined by the bright colour strokes and boundless imagination of the artist. The art of fauvism is characterized by bright colours, it’s simplicity, expressiveness and abstract genre.

It germinated in the 1900 and was highlighted by Vincent van Gogh’s in 1901 but, it was first noticed in 1904- exhibit of French primitives. In Autumn Salon Exhibition -1905, it became an officially accepted art movement where fauvists André Derain, Albert Marquet, Maurice de Vlaminck, Kees van Dongen, Charles Camoin, Jean Puy and Henri Matisse were the pillars of the Fauvism Movement. 1906, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cézanne‘s works became widely accessible. Henri Matisse’s –The Blue Mountains in 1907, The Red Studio in 1911 came to end in 1912. The French Fauvism Movement was short lived but influenced the entire world.




“Real painters do not paint things as they are… they paint them as they themselves feel them to be.”



Emotions define a man’s nature. It can make you or consume you. The best example is Vincent van Gogh, who according to the historian was suffering from a bipolar disorder and personal turmoil. His art work was brushstrokes in symbolic, in surface tension, in the movement and vibration of forms and lines with intense colour. His work resembled the post–impressionist era which was more experimental.

Van Gogh‘s finest works were produced in less than three years in a technique that grew more and more. Van Gogh‘s inimitable fusion of form and content is powerful; dramatic, lyrically rhythmic, imaginative, and emotional, that explained either his struggle against madness or his comprehension of the spiritual essence of man and nature. Some of his best works includes the ‘Starry Night’, ‘Sunflowers‘, and ‘The Bedroom at Arles‘. His works laid the foundation of fauvism in field of art.

Below is Vincent’s popular ‘Starry Night’ which is an extract from night which normal eyes miss. It brings out the surreal night with stars that is lightening the village.


Sunflower –another famous oil work is the Sunflower – a classic nature painting. The bunch of sunflowers is highlighted with hues of yellow bringing out the deeper understanding of how all the living things are tied together. It is said that he used Sunflowers as his signature painting.


Henri Matisse was a French painter and sculptor who helped forge the modern art. From his early Fauvist works to his late artworks, he emphasized expansive fields of colour, the power of gesture, and the sensuality inherent in art-making. It was his mother to advise him not to adhere to the “rules” of art, but rather listen to his own emotions.


The Frenchman then created master pieces like The Open Window, The Red Window, Dance, Portrait of Madame Mattise, Blade Nude, Blade Nude II etc.

The Open Window, 1905 -The terracotta of flowerpots and the rusty red of masts and furled sails become a blazing Indian red: the reflections of the boats, turning at anchor through the dazzle of light on the water, are pink; the green of the left wall, reflected in the open glazed door on the right, is heightened beyond expectation and picked up in the sky’s tints. The brushwork has a eupeptic, take-it-or-leave-it quality.


Apart from the his terracotta masterpieces there was another side which  was an intense interest in civilized craft. As a sculptor, Matisse loved pattern, and pattern within pattern: not only the suave and decorative forms of his own compositions but also the reproduction of tapestries, embroideries, silks, striped awnings, curlicues, mottles, dots, and spots, the bright clutter of over-furnished rooms, within the painting. His work had urgency and wanted to transpose it into terms of pure colour. One of the results was ‘The Red Studio’, 1911.


The Fauvist group of painters often used vivid colour—without much mixing or blending—to create flat shapes in their paintings while still being representational.

Othon Friesz’s painting, ‘Maison’, influenced the Fauves’ use of blocky, simple shapes.

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‘Mountains at Collioure’ by André Derain chose wild, which resembles with the work of Vincent Van Gogh.

In the painting above, you can see those vivid colours and repetitive brush strokes which gave the Fauves’ paintings a very rough, unfinished look compared to the other artwork at that time. The most famous painting from the Fauvism movement, however, is probably Matisse’s ‘Green Stripe’ but the Fauves, was all about the colour.

Art is one thing that knows no boundaries; the unspoken understanding which is established via paintings connects various landforms with one language. The language of colours and emotions.

India was not untouched by Fauvism movement. The country of art and culture developed the art in with its own flavour. The movement began in Bengal; Jamini Roy, Chittoprosad Bhattacharya had used very vibrant colours. But independence in 1947 put a check on the use of bright colours. However, art is like love, it cannot be hidden. The style got prominence again in recent past when artists like Devajyoti Ray started making exuberant art works filled with the brightness of colours.

Jamini Roy selected themes from joys and sorrows of everyday life of rural Bengal, religious theme like-Ramayana, Sri Chaitanya, Radha-Krishna and Jesus Christ, but he depicted them without narratives. Apart from this he painted scenes form the lives of the aboriginal Santhals, such as ‘Santhals engaged in drum-beating‘, ‘Santhal Mother and Child‘, ‘Dancing Santhals‘ etc. In his career as an artist Jamini Roy earned fame by evolving his own language of painting which he termed as ‘Flat Technique‘. Jamini Roy used cheap indigenous pigments for his art to make them within the reach of the affluent as well as the poor. Like the pata-painters of Bengal he proposed his own paintings from indigenous materials like lampblack, chalk-powder, leaves and creepers.


Jogen Chowdhuri –His art works are the outcome of oil, water colours and ink. In 1975, he along with some leading Delhi artists founded Gallery 26 and Artists’ Forum. From 1976, he started participating in exhibition and art galleries abroad. J.Chowdhuri has number of sculptures under his name however he is predominantly popular for his line drawings in ink.

Jogen’s long association with the handloom houses and his fascination for design concepts in alpana works that he had learnt from his mother, Chowdhuri’s works show unbroken lines. His figures are often distorted, abstracted and in colour-works he uses flat colours with contrasting hues.


Zainul Abedin–  great Bangladeshi artist and political activist moved to Kolkata for pursuing his interest in art. His talent was recognized when he was only 24 when his British patrons arranged for an exhibition of his works in London and then Paris. Both the shows were immense success. Zainul Abedin was however best known for his paintings on Bengal Famine of the 1940s.



His ink sketches the most heart thrashing horrors of Bengal Famine 1945 during famine. The pain of farmers is aptly shown by the artist. e won numerous awards throughout his lifetime, including the Presidential Award for Pride of Performance from the Government of Pakistan (1958), an honorary degree from the University of Delhi, and an appointment as National Professor of Bangladesh in 1974.


Devajyoti Ray born in 1974 is today one of the youngest and most promising acrylic and oil artist. Like his master BR Panesar, Ray’s works are independent of the influence of the regular art school styles which has entitled him as an artist of new genre.

Ray paints predominantly in acrylic. Since Ray had no formal training in art, his techniques are largely self-developed and this adds to his uniqueness. Ray uses large areas of flat colours, offbeat shapes and yet at the end the paintings look realistic and comprehendible. Ray has also worked in water colours and mixed media and has produced many new forms of experimental art. His collages , which had a special feature of looking like scraps of haphazard papers but forming clear realistic scenes when seen from a distance was also a novelty of the young artist.

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Ray paints scenes of everyday life with a touch of subtle irony. Ray’s works are for viewers to see and enjoy and then ponder over the hidden irony.

Art today has its price but there are few artist like Bal Raj Panesar who never painted commercially. It was his disciples Devajyoti Ray and Shakila who spread his name among the wider audience. Panesar’s works are abstract. The mood and the scene are preset by the artist and yet nothing remains defined. A balance is maintained in the abstract elements so as to help the viewer in guided imagination. BR Panesar creates paintings that leave the audience to their imagination.

“Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder” and this is what art is about. It’s not defined by definite lines or separate colours. It is made by the combining the hues of emotions, imagination and the love towards nature.



Masoom Jain

Team StoryMirror


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