Jogen Chowdhury


About Jogen Chowdhury paintings

Jogen Chowdhury is known for his ability to successfully marry traditional imagery with the spirit of contemporary painting. He blends the influence of his Bengali roots with a heightened awareness of the society he lives in. Born in 1939 in Faridpur, Bengal, the artist studied at the Government College of Art and Crafts, Kolkata, from 1955-60, followed by a stint at L'Ecole Nationale Superior des Beax-Arts, Paris, in 1965-57 on a French Government Scholarship. In 1966, he was awarded the Prix le France de la Jeune Peinture in Paris, and, in 1986, received an award at the Second Biennale of Havana, Cuba. He was presented the Kalidas Sanman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 2001.
If we were to trace his evolution as an artist, Chowdhury primarily focused on refining his figuration in his early works, and this approach carries through in his current pieces. In an interview, the artist commented that in his early works, "the space projected a simple iconic presence. A spatial sequence was worked out but the space was not complex. The background seemed to vanish." He describes his later works as "now more personalized and subtle". While he did participate in leftist literary circles during his youth, his imagery draws more from his cultural background than from his intellectual leanings
Chowdhury’s figures possess a rubbery quality, and are distinguished by coarse, inter-crossing lines lending them texture and volume. His lines are thick and full, and delineate the figure from the spatial darkness surrounding them. The artist’s figures shirk a realistic rendering of the human figure, yet manage to embody scenes and situations which offer a peek into life as it is. It is relevant to take into account Chowdhury’s background, as he witnessed and imbibed the effects of numerous political movements growing up in Calcutta. “This has a definite influence on my work like the Ganesha period,” he explains. “The Bengali business class worshipping the icon, and their corruption, how they degenerate just like the flesh.” With the famine, Partition and food movement deeply affecting his approach to art, we see an inherent quality of darkness in his work, which also evokes an aura of mystery. His more recent works focus intently on the figure, eliminating extraneous details. “The moment I show the entire figure, the interest in the details would be lost,” he explains. “Earlier on, the figures were observed in their natural bearings which came through expressionistic stylization and the weight of reality was greater. There is an effect of distancing today.”
Chowdhury’s unique style is partly a response to the importance of having a uniquely Indian approach to art, and he vehemently opposes mimicking Western trends. "To be global you do not have to do something that is imitative of America, Australia or England. It has to have an authenticity, which is not what blind imitation allows for."
StoryLTD features a number of paintings by Jogen Chowdhury. Buy Jogen Chowdhury paintings on StoryLTD.