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Jogen Chowdhury
UNTITLED (COUPLE NO. 1, MAN AND WOMAN)
SALTAR AL LOTE
34
Jogen Chowdhury
UNTITLED (COUPLE NO. 1, MAN AND WOMAN)
SALTAR AL LOTE

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art

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Londres

Jogen Chowdhury
B.1939
UNTITLED (COUPLE NO. 1, MAN AND WOMAN)
Signed and dated in Bengali lower right and further signed and dated ‘Jogen 86’ lower left
Ink and pastel on paper
68.5 x 98.5 cm. (26 ¾ x 38 ¾ in.)
Painted in 1986
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Procedencia

Saffronart, 9 September 2010, lot 48

Nota del catálogo

Jogen Chowdhury avoided the imitation of the European and Bengal schools and strove instead to invent his own idiom. In the artists own words 'What I felt quite strongly about was the need to create something new and original, something which could not be accomplished either by replication of Western Art or by falling back on Indian art, in other words, on ancient India and its heritage alone... The other idea that struck me was that it was my own characteristics that would define and determine my art and its conventions. My memories, my dreams, my thoughts, my environment - they could all become subjects of my works.' (J. Chowdhury, Jogen Chowdhury, Enigmatic Visions, Glenbarra Art Museum, Japan, 2005, p. 28-29).

Chowdhury was born in East Bengal and during Partition was moved with his family to Calcutta. In 1965, Chowdhury went to Paris on a French Government scholarship where he studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. He also worked at Atelier 17, a print studio set up by the English artist, Stanley William Hayter, where Krishna Reddy was assistant director. Chowdhury's return to India from Paris in 1967 marked a turning point in his career. In 1969 he began his famous series, Reminiscences of a Dream. These intricate ink and wash crosshatched drawings echoed the etchings he produced whilst working at the Atelier.

From the 1970s onwards, Chowdhury began to include references to popular visual culture. During this period he also developed his own unique approach for the treatment of the figures in his canvases. He drew inspiration from folk art sources, including Kalighats and Battala woodcuts. The current work demonstrates Chowdhury's appreciation of the Bengal pat tradition and his emphasis on autobiographical narrative. Chowdhury references local traditions and popular visual culture to comment on the complexities and contradictions of Bengali middle-class society. The artist combines fantasy with reality to produce figures that are often grotesque and distorted. 'The sheer range of characters, temperaments and manners that I observed in the people that I saw around myself fascinated me. I portrayed them from an essentially personal perspective. In my characterisation of these people, I crossed the bounds of realistic representation and let imagination take over.' (ibid. p. 31).

His subjects are usually rendered against a black background, their fluid contours tightened with cross-hatching and heightened with touches of colour. The absence of a background allows the viewer to focus purely on the central character, evoking a sense of human alienation. His figures are woven into a shape with a spidery web of dense cross hatched lines, fleshed out with a hint of colour added with a soft dry pastel.  'We did not have electricity in our house and I had to read by the hurricane lantern. I had to fall back on black and white because we did not have enough light...We had a miserable state of living when we came to Kolkata as refugees...The criss-crossing lines, too, may be carrying traces of the environmental and mental complications of that time.' (ibid. p. 52).

The current work also aptly illustrates Jogen's sensitivity to pattern and texture that came from his training and work as a textile designer at the Weavers' Service Centre in Chennai during the late 1960s.  '...I have always been fascinated by the conventional forms of a sari draping around a woman's body, and I have sought through that image, forms of my own making, in a new manner (ibid. p. 32).

Other 'Couples' from the same series are in the Peabody Essex Museum's Herwitz Collection (S. Bean, Midnight to the Boom, Painting in India after Independence, Thames & Hudson, London, 2013, p. 147, pl. 36) and the Jehangir Nicholson Collection (Y. Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art, The Progressives, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2001, p. 85, fig. 40).

Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art

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Londres