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Delhi Art Gallery Presents a Retrospective of the Life and Work of Chittaprosad
Chittaprosad, Untitled, 1947. Pen and ink on paper. 14.7 x 9.0 in. / 37.3 x 22.9 cm.

NEW DELHI.- Delhi Art Gallery presents a rare retrospective on the life and work of Chittaprosad. The exhibition is on view from rom July 11 till August 20, before moving to Kolkata. One of India’s most important artists, Chittaprosad recorded pivotal political and social movements in the country, such as the Great Bengal Famine of 1943-44 and its fallout in heart-wrenching sketches and drawings, alongside protests against colonialism, economic exploitation, urban poverty and depravity, just as beautifully as the many drawings, linocuts and scraper board illustrations he made for children, recording a beatific phase of plenitude and family values, and involving himself with marionettes for their entertainment.

This, the first-ever retrospective on Chittaprosad, celebrates his triumph over the circumstances of his highly principled life which he devoted completely to art, rejecting market forces to communicate a truth that was unequivocally his.

The exhibition has been designed in a manner that includes his drawings, paintings, linocuts and other prints, his writings in original, his letters, published writings and drawings in People’s War and People’s Age, among others, manuscripts, posters, puppets and photographs. The social and political relevance of his works resonates as powerfully – and is just as pertinent – today, as it was then.

This retrospective show is accompanied by five seminal books comprehensively researched by art-historian Dr Sanjoy Kumar Mallik, the first two focusing on his art and life, a third consisting of his political sketches, the fourth being the letters he wrote to friends and family that shed light on his career, his art practice, his interests in literature and cinema, and in people, politics and nature. A fifth book reproduces in full the only surviving copy of Hungry Bengal, all copies of which were seized and burnt by the British when it was originally published by Chittaprosad in 1943.

Voices from and on Chittaprosad
‘In my art work, I represent the tradition of moralists and political reformers. To save people means to save art itself. The activity of an artist means the active denial of death.’
– Chittaprosad, in the film Confession, made by Pavel Hobl of Czechoslovakia

‘This exposition is a timely reminder of what has made India great. Chittaprosad was a man who put the interest of India ahead of self interest. He is a man driven to find the soul of Bharat to express the aspirations of the forgotten millions and fight the self interest of those who wanted to exploit its riches. Chittaprosad is a reminder of a time – not long ago – when artists were driven by passion, a sense of mission and an unstoppable desire to express themselves without fear or favour. Chittaprosad ranks as one of India’s noblemen in its golden era.’
– Kito de Boer, Director, McKinsey & Co, Dubai

‘What was most memorable in Chitta’s paintings were the eyes. The faces in all his drawings had very large expressive eyes that were mascara-ed with black kajol (kohl), making them appear even larger. Even in his self-portrait, and for all the women and children in his paintings, the eyes were large and filled with the same sadness that he experienced in his own life.’
– Sunil Janah, photographer, who travelled with him during the Bengal famine

‘Few artists have sustained the heroic battle of living with that rare creative balance where the all-consuming compassion of a noble heart with its social conscience and public service dances daily with the fearlessness of one’s artistic imagination and its critical duty to make aware, to provoke, to make ashamed, to delight.’
– Neville Tuli, Osian’s Connoisseurs of Art

‘Though Chittaprosad is best known for his body of work on the famine, like me, you will probably be surprised by the extensiveness of his oeuvre, his willingness to constantly experiment, and remain oblivious to the demands of the market. This exhibition, and set of books, is my humble homage to one of India’s greatest, but unsung, artists. I hope it does him credit.’
– Ashish Anand, Director, Delhi Art Gallery

The Chittaprosad retrospective is on at Delhi Art Gallery, 11 Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi, from July 11 to August 20, 2011. It will then shift to Kolkata’s Birla Academy of Art & Culture, August 30 to September 11, 2011. In addition to the exhibition, the retrospective contains comprehensive material on Chittaprosad, and the film Confession is regularly screening.

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