Contemporary Painter -
A journey through his childhood as narrated to Art News.....
P Sen :
My father had
two marriages. From his first marriage he had five sons and three
daughters and twelve children from his second. That made us a huge family,
of twenty brothers and sisters!! I
was the seventeenth
child. However after the death of my father, my stepbrothers and
started to live
separately. At that time it was not that easy to take up drawing or
painting as a profession My
drawing activities were all done in secret. I tried to remain as unobtrusive
as possible while on the act. Painting
was considered a sheer wastage of time and money. So the aspiration to be
an artist was a very impractical and non-judgmental thought.
However after passing the matriculation examination, crossing many
hurdles, I made my way to the
. Apart from drawing, kite flying was my
favorites pastime. I used to make my own kites.
I must recall one incident which
later proved to be a
turning point of my life. In my final year, the last
examination was knocking at the door
yet I was still deeply
involved in making and flying kites. Discovering this my elder brother
had beaten me up black and blue.
This brought about a
strange doggedness in me to pursue my painting career and I made it a
point to go to
at any cost.
*On my early days as a painter......
P Sen :
recognized as a painter from A very early
stage in my career. There
were t at that time which were very famous and widely circulated. One was
'Prabasi' the Bengali one and the other 'Modern Review'. Ramananda
Chattopadhyaya was the editor
of 'Prabasi'. From Rabindra Nath Tagore to C R Das , every eminent writer
contributed in those two magazines. There were 3/4 color pages
in 'Prabasi', while Modern review' had one. Works of the likes of Abanindra
Nath Tagore, Nandalal Bose were published inn these two magazines. Getting
published in either of them was a matter of great prestige and immediately
the contributor was reckoned as one of the best. A lot of art works of
mine got published in these when I was hardly nineteen or twenty years old. Art
lovers from all over
came to know me for those works. There were a very few who actually bought
paintings, but the only satisfaction was that people were knowing and
recognizing me as an artist.
*On the first exhibition.......
My first exhibition was held in
( Now at
). It was in the year 1941. I
could hold my first exhibition in
Kolkata 1943, though in the meantime several
exhibitions were held at various places throughout
the country, As no professional art gallery
existed at that time, the exhibition was held at Maulana Azad
College. That indeed was a
*On the works of contemporary painters.........
P Sen :
My preferred choices are
M F Hussain, Krishan Khanna, Akbar Padamse, S M D'souza, Ramkumar.
Among them only Hussain is four years older to me,
others are my
contemporaries. I like the works of Ganesh Pyne, Ganesh Haloi, Jogen
Chowdhury Bikas Bhattacharjee, who are younger to me.
*On the works of younger artists........
P Sen : Since
physically I do not keep well often what, with backaches and respiratory
problems, I hardly go out to watch exhibitions or
join workshops. But many young painters
visit me with their
works. I don't want to single any one out . If I can't recall someone's
name now, that doesn't mean he or she is a bad painter.
This kind of question always puts me in discomfort.
*On the area of comparison with painters of
P Sen :
, Mumbai earn more than the
. That doesn't mean they are more talented. There is no such reason .
, Mumbai always try to promote local artists. They want to show artists of
, Mumbai are more talented, so prices of their works should be higher. It's
an artificial process of
hiking up prices which shouldn't last long.
Art News : If you agree to lend
your paintings, drawings to the galleries of
, Mumbai, we think there would be a long queue in front of your studio!
P Sen :
Listen, They are sold at a much price. than the
price at which they are bought.. It's become
a practice with
them. They collect art works at a very cheap rate. I receive calls
almost regularly. They enquire about my new works. Look, there are several
reasons for the lower price of the painters of Bengal. Bengali artists look
for the buyers mainly in Kolkata. Who'll purchase painting at such high
rate here? Average Bengali art lovers don't have that ability. On the
other hand so called affluent class belongs to a different community. Most
of the people of this community are not capable to read
the language of art. So usually they don't become patron of art and
artists. Of course there are exceptions, but that’s the rule of the game.
On the contrary, the scenario
of Mumbai was always
different. The Parsee
community mainly patronized with Art and paintings. They had a strong
cultural background and were genuine art lovers. A carpet on the floor and
a painting on the wall carry lot
of value added
message to them. So the possibility of a good art market existed
there from a long time. In
those days, white people, I mean Europeans were the main buyers of
paintings at Kolkata. They were the main business community. Most of them
left the country after the
. The lion's share of the business of white people was grabbed by a
specific community. Due to ignorance they seldom cared for the art of
. For sometime now though, some galleries of Kolkata are trying to promote
the artists of
. CIMA, Gallery 88,Chitrakoot,
are notable among them.
*On the nature of Kolkata artists......
P Sen :
In the yesteryears
artists of Kolkata were not good at art marketing. So price of their works
were less. Buyers from outside mainly of
, Mumbai took advantage of this. Recently the perspective is changing.
Apart from those two cities there's a spurt of art marketing
in Chennai lately. They have also started enquires in Kolkata,
which is really a positive sign.
*On the role of NRI buyers........
P Sen : Through NRI buyers and art lovers, people from abroad came
to know about Indian art and artists. Now websites showcasing Indian art
are also playing a good role. Most of the buyers from abroad are NRI s.
But sometimes foreign art collectors also collect modern Paintings of
India. Recently a Painting of
Suhas Roy was collected by
. Ten years ago one of my painting was sold in
8,00,000. Recently that painting was repurchased by a NRI for
This amount possibly is not that high according to their standards,
but ten years back Rs 80,000 was a lot to me.
Paritosh Sen was born in Dhaka, now in
, in 1918 in a noted Ayurved's family The world of nature, colour,
movement fascinated him from his childhood asis clear from his collection
of autobiographical vignettes,
, named after his
address. After finishing school, Sen ran away from home to join the
headed by Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhury. His fellow-students there were K.C.S.
Paniker, Prodosh Dasgupta, Gopal Ghosh and others. After finishing art
school, Sen taught art at the Daly college in
. In 1943, he along with his friends formed the Kolkata group. In 1949,
Sen left for
, he studied at Andre Lhote's school, Academie Grand Chaumier, Ecole des
Beaux Arts and Ecole des Louver where he studied the history of painting.
The sojourn abroad provided an exciting exposure. A meeting with Picasso
left a deep impression. in 1954, he returned to Kolkata. To earn a living,
he joined the
in Palamau, near
, as an art teacher. After a short stint there,Sen returned to Kolkata. He
joined the newly opened school of printing technology as professor of
design and layout at Jadavpore.In the early '60s, he went abroad to
. He was commissioned by the French government to design a Bengali
typography based on the script of Rabindranath Tagore. This was an
interest that surfaced once again in the '80s. Between 1970-7 1, he
received the Rockefeller grant and went to
. On his return, he created an installation on violence. Between 1981-82,
Sen had been Artist-in-Residence at Maryland Institute of Art, Baltimore.
In 1985, Sen was invited by the National Institute of design at Ahmedabad
to be an artist- in-residence. He taught a course in illustration. During
his stay there he used the English translation of a piece from
,l A Tree in My Village and made a folio-sized publication from it. It was
a stimulating experiment where he wrote and illustrated the piece in ink
on sensitized paper which acted as a negative and thereby excluded the
negative film. It was one of the most fascinating exercises in 'marrying
text with image.
In the course of his career,
Sen.'s style of painting has undergone
many changes. From the stylized to the voluminous, expressionist figures,
he has traversed a long way. But there are continuities. For example, The drawing with bold, vigorous strokes, the use of volume in the figuration
and sharp irony have been impressive elements in his work. Since 199 1,
his work has become more sensuous and he uses more exuberant colors.
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