Pata artist Bhaskar Chitrakar's Babu-Bibi series at Art Exposure, Kolkata
Popular Pata chitra artist Bhaskar Chitrakar will be holding his solo exhibition next year, focussing on his “Babu-Bibi” series, which cover the entire gamut of human emotions, from romantic love, family duty to fear and satire.
Jointly hosted and curated by Aban Desai’s Range Gallery and Uma Mitra’s Gallery Art Exposure, Bhaskar’s works have reinvented old pata art done during the period of British Raj, when the Kalighat artists would sit along the roadside creating satirical paintings of the high-class, moneyed Bengali babus, who tried to ape the leisured lifestyle of their British masters, spending hours preening and pampering themselves and their spouses.
In a contemporary context, these have translated into the “hen-pecked Babu” series, the “selfie” series, and the ever-popular “Babu-Bibi” series.
Among the pata paintings that would be exhibited there is an art work where the babu is seen taking a selfie with his Bibi with a rose in her hand and a parrot perched on the babu's shoulder. Here, Chitrakar has tried to blend in the modern ways of life with the traditional symbols such as a parrot or a rose, usually associated with the Babu culture. He has given the painting a contemporary and quirky twist.
The pata art movement that started in the early nineteenth century lost momentum with the advent of printed artwork. Many painters moved to idol making; and an art form that had impressed and influenced artists like Pablo Picasso, and the Chinese scroll painters, almost came to a standstill.
For the past 25 years, young Bhaskar Chitrakar, inspired by his grandfather, has actively revived the art form by continuously painting in the old style and also re-inventing the pata chitra with contemporary themes and ideas.
“He is the last active Kalighat patua still living and working in the Kalighat area. I have tried to showcase his work in various platforms for the past eight years. He has grown immensely in terms of concept and technique and now, combines old Kalighat style with miniature painting in all its details,” says Aban Desai, who will curate his upcoming solo show.
Bhaskar continues to use traditional powder pigments, grinding them himself, mixing gum-arabic and chemicals to ensure longevity, and using the best quality handmade paper or water colour paper and finest brushes, which are sometimes one haired brush,to execute his pata art works. He works slowly and tediously, spending more than 15-20 days contemplating, designing and finally executing each piece, especially his “Babu” series, with subtle humour injected in each piece of art.