Monday, 30th October 2017

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Hilarious treatment of protagonists

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By Sandip Sarkar
  • Published 5.05.06

Gallery Royal celebrated its inauguration by exhibiting Some recent works by Paritosh Sen. There are 33 acrylic paintings, which indicate that Sen can still be diverse, dynamic and even perhaps naughty. Even at the ripe old age of 88, he is the very image of a person in search of himself. These days he is reluctant to use oil paints. Some say he has mellowed down, but evidently he can still be controversial when he wishes. All his co-founders of Calcutta Group (established in 1943), Nirode Mazumdar, Prodosh Dasgupta, Rathin Moitra, Shubho Tagore, Prankrishna Paul and Gopal Ghose, have passed away. He is the only remnant of the group that ushered in the tradition of modernity into Indian art.

However, there still remains an avant-grade enthusiasm in his stay in Paris. In recent years he has shed off the sophisticated intellectual stance of his earlier works executed between mid-1930s and 1980s. The serious tragic poignancy has presently taken on the all too human tone of comedy. He is humourous and witty, but without the hint of malice. There is Honor? Daumieresque approach to human follies and foibles.

For some time now he has been painting self-portraits in the form of caricature. His longish face with thin silky hair on his head, thick bushy sideburns and a Grecian nose have all been given a comical air. In one, he has even brought in a profile of Madame Sen in a funny schoolteacher pose. The hilarious way he treats his protagonists, be it an Owl, or a street cur barking at birds, a plump middle aged woman “eating corn” (a painting by the same name) or Blowing the conch shell hooks the viewer. His brush still unashamedly adores caressing the luscious breasts and buxom buttocks of lovely women. We are treated to a wide range of visually appealing situations from the earnest Manipuri dancer’s stage performance to the innocence of the Parsee boy with skullcap. In Through the lens darkly, one can one detect a sense of anguish. In it, a woman photographer clicks a photograph of a disaster ? dead bodies are piled in the background in a wanton, almost obscene fashion.

At first, the mastery that has gone into the compositions is hardly noticed. Gradually the dominant details begin to make an impact. The precision of linear movement and use of space, the slight distortion and elongation and the contrast of the glowing hues slowly sink in.