Back to Previous page

Jogen Chowdhury

Profile | Summary | Artwork

Jogen Chowdhury was born in Daharpara Village, Faridpur, Bangladesh in 1939. Jogen's father Pramatnath Chowdhury was a Brahmin zamindar. Both his parents took interest in art, Jogen's father Pramatnath Chowdhury; painted several mythological scenes from the village theatres and also sculpted various Hindu icons. Where as his mother was an expert in Alpana drawings.

1939-47 Jogen Chowdhury lived in a village atmosphere. 1947 Just before partition Jogen and his father shifted to Calcutta. And after partition in 1948, the whole family shifted. Till 1951 the whole family stayed at the police department quarter of his uncle, where on the walls Jogen painted his first painting, Calcutta. 1951 The family shifted to another house in Saheednagar Colony, Dhakuria, Calcutta.

Jogen Chowdhury is known for his ability to successfully marry traditional imagery with the zeitgeist of contemporary painting, in a skillful blend of an urbane self-awareness and a highly localized Bengali influence. His early works show an attention to figuration that carries through in his current pieces. In an interview, Chowdhury 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." Anshuman Dasgupta describes these works as more iconic and more dramatized; per contra, Chowdhury describes his later works as "now more personalized and subtle".

During his college days, Chowdhury took part in leftist literary circles, the members of which dismissed Rabindranath Tagore as a bourgeoisie and became interested in the works of Russian authors. But by and large, Chowdhury kept himself apart from cultural movements: though friends with members of the Hungry Generation, his imagery was drawn from his cultural background more than his intellectual milieu.

1962 Jogen chowdhury was employed as Designer in the Handloom Board, Calcutta.
1967 Stayed in London for five months. 1968 He comes back to India from Paris.
1968-72 He worked as an Art-Designer, Madras Handloom Board, Madras.
1970 Joined 'Calcutta Painters' group.
1970 A collection of his poems were published, titled 'Hridoy Train Beje Othey'.
1973-87 He was appointed as a Curator in the Art Gallery, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.
1975 Founder member, 'Gallery 26, Artists' Forum', New Delhi. 1986 He represented India in the 'Festival of Art', Bagdadh.
1989,92 Jogen chowdhury was curated a show on Indian Art, by the Govt. of India and Bangladesh, Indian Council for Cultural Relation (I.C.C.R), Dhaka.
1990 He was one of the jury members at the International Exhb., Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal.
1993 Jogen was in the jury, Lalit Kala Akademi, Bhubaneshwar. Lives and works in Santiniketan.

"My background is relevant," he remarks in an interview, explaining that his life in Calcutta was "quite disturbed with political movements This has a definite influence on my worked like the Ganesha period. The Bengali business class worshipping the icon, and their corruption, how they degenerate just like the flesh." The famine, the Partition, and the food movement all cast a pall over his formative years, and a quality of darkness may be seen to inhere in Chowdhury's work. Yet as well as an indicator of sadness, this darkness can be understood to evoke an aura of mystery. It is an effect enhanced in Chowdhury's more recent works, which, increasingly, crop the central image. Chowdhury explains that "The purpose is to hide some parts. The moment I show the entire figure, the interest in the details would be lost 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 maintains the necessity of a uniquely Indian approach to art, as opposed to the blind aping of the Western trends of installations et al. "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."