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Benodebehari Mukhopadhyaya (1904-80)

Because of his delicate health and poor eyesight, Benodebehari, as a child was declared unfit for ordinary school education and was sent to Rabindranath's experimental school in 1917. Santiniketan started its art department in 1919 and Benodebehari found his way into it. As one of the first batch of students, he was fortunate to be part of the search and experiment of the early years. In 1925, he became a teacher in Kala Bhavana. Earlier, he taught Art for a short while to the children of Sisu Vibhaga. He made a mark as a teacher, motivating his students to study natural forms and draw their resource from them. He had the right kind of advice for each individual student, his keen analytical eye spotting their special needs.

Benodebehari lived in Santiniketan from 1917 to 1949. After losing his eyesight in 1956, he diverted his creativity in other directions. He made paper collages with the assistance of his associates, he modelled sculptures with plasticine, clay or wax. He also took to writing, a collection of his Bengali writings entitled Chitrakar was published in 1979 and won him much acclaim, winning him the Bharatiya Bhasha Parisad award and the Rabindra Puraskar. In 1958, he returned to Santiniketan as a teacher of Art Theory in Kala Bhavana; for a short spell he was also the Adhyaksha. On his retirement, he was made Professor Emeritus in 1970 and in the same year he was elected Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi. In 1974, the Government of India conferred Padma Vibhushana on him in 1977 Visva-Bharati awarded him its highest accolade, Desikottama.