Monday, April 1, 2013

Kalighat style of painting gets a modern hue

Kalam Patua, one among the better known contemporary exponents of the Kalighat style of painting, was recently showcased at New Delhi-based Gallery Espace. After being featured in a major retrospective of Kalighat paintings at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) from the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, Kalam’s second exhibition at the gallery Espace incorporated a new series of paintings.

These were based on social observation, autobiography and a satirical take on contemporary themes. Importantly, the works on view re-imagined traditional ideas in fresh new contexts. A couple of months ago, Kalam installed an ‘Open Studio’ at the exhibition venue. The idea was to invite the public to view his process and be part of it.

The working process of this observant artist incorporates the traditional techniques of his community and his own distinctive style in Kalighat painting over the past twenty years characterized by the usage of fluid watercolor washes and pastel colors.

Kalam Patua (born in 1962, village Jhilli, West Bengal) hails from the patua community of traditional storytellers and painters. He learnt the art of painting scrolls from his uncle. He began to paint images of goddesses as well as narrative scrolls depicting Ramayana, Chaitanya and Krishnalila, among other themes.

In 1990, he was commissioned to execute a scroll illustrating the story of French Revolution by the Alliance Francaise, Kolkata. It was around this time that he experimented with subjects such as dowry deaths and communal violence. Kalam Patua works as a postmaster in Chandpara sub-post office in West Bengal.

The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, which holds the single largest collection of Kalighat paintings, has acquired and showcased Kalam's work in its recent touring exhibition across South Asia. His works are also in the collections of the NGMA in Delhi; the National Museum in Liverpool, UK; the Museum of Civilization in Canada; the Chicago Children's Museum; and the Lekha and Anupam Poddar Collection.

No comments:

Post a Comment