Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chittaprosad: A Retrospective (1915-1978)

Known to one of India’s most humane, compassionate and principled painters, Chittaprosad’s oeuvre is documented in detail in a new show at Delhi Art Gallery.

It is comprised of his wide range of work such as political drawings, paintings etc. He has also done propaganda posters, art for children. The versatile artist has experimented with mediums that include puppetry as well.

Mounted on a scale that will do full justice to his curiosity, experimentation and intellect, this sure is among the most important retrospective exhibitions ever to be mounted on this legendary Indian artist. For viewers, it may well change their understanding and perception of Chittaprosad Bhattacharya as an artist and as a human being.

The New Delhi-based gallery has reproduced a milestone book based on the lone copy linked to the events, preserved for posterity, as part of a set of five publications that accompanies this major retrospective (Jul 11, 2011 to Aug 20, 2011).

Born in 1915 in the state of West Bengal, this self-taught artist was a member of the Communist Party. Chittaprosad was inspirited by the creations of artisans, sculptors and puppet-players from his village. His firsthand experience of the Bengal Famine prompted him to depict human suffering in brutally honest drawings and stark sketches done in pen and ink in 1943-44.
Chittaprosad’s exhibition in Prague’s National Gallery propelled him to international fame. He was hailed a master by the art world.

Apart from his works that represent human suffering, the proletariat and marginalized people, he did several landscapes and cityscapes, female figures, nudes etc. These portraits exude great sense artistic control and also reveal a wider range of interests than are apparent as his identity as political propaganda artist seems to suggest.

An expert storyteller and a poet, he produced several paintings and illustration work related to children’s literature. He collaborated with Czech writer Norbert Fryd to illustrate ‘Indian Fables & Fairy Tales’, ‘With Puppets to Calcutta’ etc. The socially sensitive artist passed away in 1978.

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