Volume 2 Issue 47 | December 20 , 2008 |


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Journey through Bangladesh

From Pabna

Raghunath Chakraborty:
A World of Colours

Raghunath Chakraborty's works look familiar to most people. His style is distinct. It is a type of painting known as 'pata-chitra'. The word pata refers to the base on to which the paintings are produced- the paper or the canvas. His images revolve around folk or rural culture. Much of it is about a culture that seems to be getting lost. Aspects of our rural life that fill the artist with a sense of nostalgia. Many of his best works were exhibited at the Drik Gallery from November 14 to 21.

Raghunath Chakraborty was born in Gaibandha in 1969. He earned his B.Com in 1991. His passion for painting, however, dates as far back as he can remember. His particular style of 'pata-chitra' has a four-hundred year history. In this respect, he is a lover of tradition. His subjects are simple, rural, clear unambiguous images. The paint is even and contained within the borders of the drawing. Colours do not overlap, the paint does not mix. The look is one of solid, flat colours. He belongs to the same school of painting as the artist Shambhu Acharya, also a 'patua'. In fact, Shambhu Acharya was one of his inspirations for getting into this business.

Raghunath himself never underwent any academic training in painting. The passion for painting is something he just picked up. Even though he does not come from a family of painters, he was inspired by his mother's 'alpana' work out on the front yard. He also felt deeply drawn to the aesthetic quality of the goddesses.

His inspirations: all things from rural Bengal. Scenes of weddings, brides, workers, artists, fishermen, farmers and metalworkers. And women, women and more women. Women seem to occupy a large part of his work. Most Raghunath canvases have women in them but the images don't have a soft, sensual quality. Like all pata-chitra work, the outlines are bold, the edges are sharp. The colour of skin is usually yellow. Not much can be discerned by way of mood. Nevertheless, it is clear that Raghunath's biggest inspiration is the same as the inspiration for so many other artistes out there. “There is no particular object or symbol that recurs in my work. I try to portray folk culture in general.”

A variety of materials is used for his work. The stuff he makes the paint with is quite cheap. Oyster shell powder, gum and bel are just some of things he uses to prepare his paint. All patuas work this way. And although he hasn't formally trained with anyone, he says he has drawn lessons from the works of Jamini Roy and Abanindranath Tagore.

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