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"In the last three years in Art College, I did only three pieces of sculpture! Can you believe it? I was never intended to become a sculptor in those early days of my study period. I was almost 'forced' to take 'sculpture' as my specialization after two years of preparatory course. I became so dissatisfied that I did not make a single piece of sculpture during the period of 3rd year to 5th year in my college. Exception is, to get promotion in the final exam. I built only three pieces of sculpting work and I stood first class first!"
This is one of the many typical incidents dashed with fun which took place in the primary sculpting period of renowned sculptor Mr Shankar Ghosh.He never gives much hype for publicity as well as for formality. His days at Govt. College of Arts and Crafts, Kolkata as revealed by himself in a very recent informal chat is really stunning and amazing. Sculpture was not in his favorite list of Art. It was possibly around 1954, Mr Pradosh Dasgupta ( head of the dept. of sculpture, Govt. College of Art and Crafts ) insisted student Shankar Ghosh on taking sculpture as his special subject. As Shankar couldn't disobey his Teacher's choice, he opted out for not doing any work in classes after classes.
"Rather I took refuge under the shadow of our college student union. I became very active in student politics and in the union activities. I was regular in attending classes but was very careful to avoid class works. That was my protest. A protest designed by me. An unique form of protest against 'that choice' which was put on me against my unwillingness. As result of the final exam. was nearing every classmate and my teachers scornfully used to ask ' Hey, how you'll do in the exam? What do you think?" Perhaps they had the thoughts of me who never did any single piece during three consecutive academic years! They got a jolt when I was awarded first in first class. That was really funny." Mr. Ghosh also revealed that life as an artist was never a cakewalk in his early days. At his teens, when was with his family, a joint Bengali middle class household, he had to face several hindrances from his own family members which was a common scene in bengali society. Shankar's family was not an exception. So he had to face stiff resistance at the tine of his preparation to get admission into the Art College. Ultimately Shankar had to leave his family and the home.
"At that time I was eighteen. Imagine, I had to explore the means to continue my study and shelter at that age. It was somehow managed, I earned my own living by designing puppets, curtains, covers etc. My goal was to become an artist. So I was ready to face any challenge. Noted water colour painter Mr Biren Deb used to stay at my paternal home on 1st floor. He influenced me as an artist as well as an owner of a car. When he used to drive away a thought often peered to me - An artist can have a car ! So if I become an artist I may own a car." He laughed merrily, "Believe it or not that was the first inspiration to me to be an artist. When I got a certain amount I readily bought a scooter. Though it was smallest edition of a car I was pleased to have a personal transport."
Like his final exam. his first solo exhibition was also a somehow very stunning. That was 1962, he prepared some pictures as exhibits along with 12 sculptures. Media reported that his paintings were better than sculptures,. " I got really angry, the cared products of mine are not standard enough?! From that day I promised not to do any more painting. From early seventies and onwards I concentrated on sculpting. But before being greatly acknowledged as a sculptor I started work for ad-worlds"-his simple statement. As he believes," Nobody can be trained by anybody. Sense of art comes from the core of one's soul. As I was never really trained by anybody, to some extent Pradosh Dasgupta is my "guru" in mind, not in practice. And, influences? Apart from Henry Moore I was never influenced by any Sculptor. Though this influence was more in psyche than in practice. I live on my own ideas."