In the labyrinthine bylanes of Kolkata’s Kalighat resides Bhaskar Chitrakar, born in 1978, the last of the Patua painters whose family has been producing the Patachitra art unique to the area for six generations. His studio, a crowded room in his childhood home, overflows with art supplies and half-finished paintings, but affords just enough space to work on a makeshift bed.
Patachitra are traditional cloth scrolls that depict mythologies and folktales, and have been present in Eastern India for centuries. But the Kalighat Patachitra is distinctive in how it uses a rural style to pass commentary on the city’s socio-political landscape. While other Patua artisans operating in the area have relinquished painting in exchange for making the more profitable sculptures and idols that are used for the city’s many religious festivals, Chitrakar continues to ply his trade. He realized his calling was paining after making statues with his father for the Akshardham temple in Gujarat.
His exhibit with us are titled Babu receiving cow’s blessings and Hamari Auto, both water colour on fabriano paper made in 2021.