Ghulam Rasool Santosh was born in Srinagar (Kashmir) on 19 June 1929. His father was in the police department. He was interested in painting since childhood and used to copy the paintings of local famous people. At the age of ten, he made his first natural scene painting which was an imitation of an art teacher’s painting.
After matriculation at the age of fifteen, Ghulam Rasool left studies and started painting signboards and walls. About two-and-a-half years later, in 1947, he came in contact with Bombay painter Syed Haider Raza, who was in Kashmir at that time.
Just as a group of progressive artists was formed in Bombay in 1948, similarly Raza and Hari Ambadas Gade formed a progressive group of Kashmiri artists in 1950.
In 1953, Ghulam Rasool fell in love with a Hindu girl, but he was deeply disappointed when she got married somewhere else. He was so deeply shocked by this incident that he left scene painting and started doing figure painting.
In 1954, he received a scholarship from the Government of India and went to Baroda to study painting under the guidance of N.S. Bendre. There he conducted the first cubist experiments and seriously studied the oil medium.
He also kept painting in water colors. He received the National Award of Lalit Kala Akademi in 1957, 64 and 73 and was awarded “Padmashree” in 1975.
The exhibition held by Santosh around 1960 contained paintings of rural scenes and life in standing or lying down poses and in almost abstract combinations, in which there is a coordination of cubism and expressionism and some inclination towards semi-abstraction.
Despite the distortion in the shapes, their patterns can be understood. The colors in the paintings have been used sparingly, which also has a definite purpose, the drawing is very pure. Despite some symbolism, all the works are communicative.
Color combinations are sensitive. There is rhythmic movement. After Cubism, he started painting in flowing lines. Gradually the forms became invisible in his art and the view of the entire picture became important.
Gradually he abandoned the view of the figure and the background and left only its essential essences and signs. In this way, he gravitated towards abstract style and started experimenting with it and with its help he tried to enter into the depths of his mind.
They try to express a mood through line, color and abstract form. Even though the plane of the picture is flat, a kind of fluidity is experienced.
There is a feeling of a wide area on the canvas from which some abstract like forms appear.
These forms create a hypnotic effect through the play of light, darkness and colors and there is a feeling of a deep mystery in the picture which is difficult to analyze, as if circles, triangles, rectangles, semicircles and many other geometric forms emerge from a volcano of the mind. Coming out and shining in light coming from some unknown source.
By looking at the paintings, a strange unknown emotion emerges in the mind and then gets absorbed in the depths of the mind. No idea, no form of this art is related to the daily experiences of the outside world.
Yet in these paintings, the influence of Ghulam Rasool’s birthplace Kashmir can be seen in the blue, brown, brown and white colors of the Himalayas.
The feeling of mountains, tall trees and wide sky etc. has remained constant in his mind and it has been influencing his art in some way or the other.
He did not pay much attention to texture at first, with limited use of light blue, brown and white colors, but later it became very important in his paintings.
He tried to make his paintings more and more expressive and started applying melted wax to oil colours, which gave a lot of shine to his paintings. The expanse all around in the picture gives the impression of dark space.
In it many shapes, whether roundness or angularity, get illuminated and appear. Ghulam Rasool Santosh is counted among Tantric artists because the forms depicted in his paintings resemble ancient Tantric geometric forms and combinations.
Some of these are visible in the pictures and some appear to be shrouded in mystery. He died on 10 March 1997 in Delhi at the age of 68.