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Modern & Contemporary Indian Art Modern & Contemporary Indian Art JOGEN CHOWDHURY (B. 1939)
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Jogen Chowdhury was born in a village in the Faridpur district of Bangladesh. His parents were both very artistic; his father painted mythological scenes witnessed at the local village theatres and sculpted various Hindu deities while his mother was an expert in Alpana drawings, a decorative folk art across the country. Though his family soon migrated to Kolkata (then Calcutta) he was brought up on village traditions and culture.
Chowhury graduated in 1960 from the Government College of Art & Craft, Kolkata and soon took up his first job as an art teacher at a school in Howrah. He was later employed as Designer in the Handloom Board, Calcutta. In 1965 he went to Paris to study at the Ecolé des Beaux Arts, in William Hayter's Atelier 17 for 3 years. On his way back to India in 1968 he spent a few months in London. On his return he was appointed as Textile Designer in the Handloom Board in Chennai. In 1970, he joined the Calcutta Painters Group. His first collection of poems Hridoy Train Beje Othey was also published in the same year.
Chowdhury had developed his individual style after his return from Paris. He is today considered a master of lines. He has mastered the line to make the curves he draws depict the character of his figures. Colour is used only to provide matter into the form. Chowhury’s figures are carefully distorted. Through this distortion he imparts an air of caricature in his figures of women, men and animals. The figures are always the most important and convey all that he wants to express. His most famous paintings are in ink, water colour and pastel. He has painted in oil as well.
The reputed art historian R. Siva Kumar insightfully described Chowdhury’s works in the following excerpt "The pulse and rhythm of Jogen Chowdhury’s art come from a filial affinity to nature and milieu... Mnemonic displacements and personal associations add to the symbolic ambivalence of his motifs, making his images come closer to inexplicable experiences than to explicit signs. In the postures of some figures we feel an animal sentience; in the ripe anatomy of others we savour a fruity succulence. The figures are wrought by a combination of decorative willfulness and expressive distortion and are imbued with an effusive sensuality. Chowdhury’s art is rich in suggestions; it is to be apprehended without bracketing our fund of knowledge, experience or memories, but also cannot be narrated as that would trivialize it and deplete its sensory particularities."