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Panesar passes away

Baldev Raj Panesar, the artist-statistician, who had made Calcutta his home about 50 years ago, died on Monday morning.

Better known as the much-respected Panesarji, he was born at Hosiarpur in Punjab in 1927. He came to Calcutta to study statistics at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), and then retired as joint director of the same institution.

He was close to P.C. Mahalanobis, who had founded ISI, and Rabindrasangeet singer Subinoy Roy, who also worked there, among various other eminent personalities he became friends with.

He painted in his free time although he was without any formal training in art. However, after retirement he was engaged with paint and brush full time.

He had participated in many exhibitions here and abroad but he never travelled. He donated the better part of his income to charity, and would feed countless children in the neighbourhood that he had lived in for years.

Initially he had made a name for himself as a collage artist but he gave up that medium as he began to train the collage artist, Shakila, who was then a child from an impoverished background. He had practically helped Shakila build her career.

Panesar worked tirelessly in his tiny room at the Taltallah branch of the YMCA. He mainly painted landscapes that were not so much related to geography as his mental state.

He became a member of the Society of Contemporary Artists in 1974.

He spent the last years of his life in an old people’s home, where he continued to make art.