Patrice de la Perriere
Directeur du magazine Univers des Arts
Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres
What an odyssey Sen Shombit has traversed, from a refugee camp in divided Bengal up to his varied artistic achievements! As a child, he lived in a refugee camp near the Ganges, without any comfort, and surrounded by pigs wandering freely in the alleys. Even so, Sen already knew that he wanted to become an artist. Several people in his family and neighborhood told him that only France would allow him to realize his art dream.
Across the river from his refugee camp was Chandernagor, a former French historic trading post with beautiful European architecture houses. Sen would often go there to dive into this small relic of French culture in India. After numerous visits, he one day decided to venture out and leave for Paris. Even if his beginnings in France were difficult and often very discouraging, it was Sen’s tenacity, unwavering will, even his indestructibility that built him to be the artist that he is today: recognized and followed by many collectors; the most French of Indian painters.
Order and désordre: I like these compositions, gathering 4,6,9,12,18,21 and 24 small paintings that can be displaced, turned around, interchanged. For Sen, “désordre” can give birth to order. This is why he likes to give collectors the freedom to compose their own personal installation, revealing figures or symbols with limitless composition possibilities. For this extraordinary artist, the figurative can spring from the abstract. It is certainly this attractive possibility, this formidable freedom that has allowed him to move forward, and to give free rein to his rich personality where the imagination and the spirit are all essential elements of his art.
Gesturism Art: The word Gesturism is of great significance, it reflects Sen’s vision of his work as a personal pictorial narrative. Sen has a way of painting without limits to show that what is not seen, but which is nevertheless essential. So his painting practice is spontaneous, like writing automatically. Sen’s interaction with the canvas is guided by the spirit of the painting, where lines, curves, volumes, colours intermingle and complement each other, creating shapes and figures for the viewer to discover and intuitively grasp. Sen’s paintings are like brain-teasers. They require us to untangle the riddle and share the artist’s vision so as to perceive what is hidden and awaiting our discovery.
The two Salons: In December 2017, Sen participated in the Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts in Carrousel du Louvre. In February 2018, he presented his paintings at the Salon du Dessin et de la Peinture à l’Eau, under the glass roof of Grand Palais, as part of Art Capital. To be selected for these two historic salons is a grand opportunity. It allows the artist to measure his professionalism while being part of a ‘family’ of creators who have the common desire to express their vision, originality and message to the world. Indeed, what is certain is that Sen is in a good position….
Most revered former Culture and Education Minister of France as being the top most evangelist who uplifted the status of art and culture in the world; currently President of Imarabe
“Sen, I am very happy to know you as a remarkable French artist of Indian origin. The Gesturism Art style you have created espouses outstanding Franco-Indian blend of values, and in the contemporary art world it introduces a totally new style of interactive art called “désordre” installations. Let me wish you the very best in your artistic pursuits in future.”
Member AICA. Editorial Director, Enciclopedia d’Arte Italiana, Art Advisor ArtAffinity
Magic of colours, poetry of gestures Sen Shombit is a painter who stirred my deepest emotions with excitement. His extraordinary humanity arising from his heart is made visible both through his sincere eyes and in his paintings, which naturally continue his “artistic gestures.”
Sen’s Gesturism Art: “Sen manages to quiver the strings of man’s inner being thereby creating profoundly harmonious sensations of psycho-physical well-being. Once you watch his paintings, you can continue to feel them inside you for a long while with your eyes closed.”
Indian soul, France in his eyes, poetry in his heart: This is Sen. His magic alchemy comes from the perfect blending of India’s exceptional spiritual treasures with the artistic cultural richness that Sen breathed in Paris. This is further strengthened by Sen’s innate sensitivity at the junction point where every gesture creates poetry bringing great harmony that fascinatingly shines throughout all his paintings.
“Colour is a power which directly influences the soul,” wrote Russian painter and art theorist, Wassily Kandinsky, in ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art.’ He continued: “Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively, to cause vibrations in the soul.”
Similarly, Sen manages to quiver the strings of man’s inner being thereby creating profoundly harmonious sensations of psycho-physical well-being. Once you watch his paintings, you can continue to “feel” them inside you for a long while with your eyes closed.
Sen’s paintings inflame imagination and touch the heart: Each colour plays a role with precise meaning within his pictorial fabric. Each detail is managed with great care and sensibility thus entering the observer’s heart, the way it happens for instance when you watch Sen’s Homage to Millet’s Angelus.
Sen’s interpretation of The Last Supper (‘Leonardo Labyrinth’) participates with a contemporary perspective into a key event narrated in evangelical Gospels. Since ancient times this has been dealt with by Giotto, Andrea del Castagno, Tintoretto, Bouts, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Signorelli, Duerer and many others, including Leonardo da Vinci.
At Museo Arte e Scienza Sen presents a painting which converses with Leonardo’s masterpiece, re-interpreting his famous Supper with a skillful and challenging de-composition in 24 canvasses. The viewers can thereby re-compose the 24 fragments to approach Sen’s poetic painting through interaction, and so enchantingly enter Leonardo’s contemplative labyrinth.
Art curator, Paris
Sen & Gesturism Art Sen draws his creative force, joy of life and hope from his ongoing exchange with his environment. His paintings witness a relentless pursuit of truth, a truth that springs from the universals of light, color, gestures and matter that he plays with.
Since the inception of his artistic search, the gesture is to Sen an instrument that descrambles an earlier world. What cannot be translated into words he makes manifest through his gestures. So his paintings become the very expression of his inner life where he intimates the gesture with a bare rigor that is devoid of any superficiality.
All his paintings come from this deep intuition that is steady, persistent and free in expression. Gesturism is his re-cognition way of environmental exchanges he has always pursued, never removed. The message of his pictorial and spiritual adventure has not finished, it is ongoing and overflowing with life.
Gesturism désordre installation: Outwitting the traditional image of the abstract, gestural and lyrical painter, Sen Shombit,’Indian artist,’ is actively involved in creating, with this concept “désordre”, a real interaction between his works and the spectator. Perfectly blending with the spectator, he invites him to participate in the development of his work. “This is a new style where, for the first time in the world, viewers can unscramble the original theme of the painting as well as recompose it in any way they want to.
In order to do this, the artist has in fact developed a process resembling a certain form of happening, around which the spectators are free to reinterpret the initial work by displacing portions of frames dissociated beforehand, all this with the objective of arriving at their own creation.
This new form of art, which is both innovative and recreational, positions Sen Shombit as a big-hearted forerunner, ever attentive to offer more and more to his collectors.”
Gesturism painting: The multiplication of graphical movements makes his paintings a separate artistic movement. Invading the canvas with a sumptuous hypergraphism of pure and abundant colour, each scene, face or landscape is a vivid tale or story.
Very often his journey as a figurative yet abstract painter extends from observation to the eyes of a dreamer or imagination in order to magically result in a pictorial creation with acrylic painting on canvas.
His works address a current inquiry on the immanence of the spectator as well as the intellectual survival of each in an ever-changing modern world.
Maire de Barbizon, France
Pourquoi Sen â Barbizon ? Lorsqu’il arrive â Barbizon chez son ami Jacques Meunier, Sen se retrouve dans l’enceinte de l’atelier de JF Millet. C’est pour lui comme rencontrer un mythe. Mais au-delâ de l’admiration de Sen pour Millet, quel lien relie sa peinture au préimpressionnisme?
Comme le dadaîsme fut, au début du siècle dernier, une révolution contre la guerre, les riches et l’art du moment, une révolte artistique se doit de s’opposer à l’art virtuel, irréel ou numérique d’aujourd’hui. C’est une des sources du gesturisme, mais ce n’est pas la seule et ce n’est pas celle qui relie Sen à Millet.
Le gesturisme c’est aussi la peinture qui vient du geste. La vie est donnée et peinte par le geste et non par le mouvement.
C’est le geste qui crée le mouvement et non l’inverse. Millet peint les paysans dans leurs activités quotidiennes, mais le tableau n’est jamais figé, il décrit une action, fendre une bûche, semer, par un geste caractéristique. Seul le geste importe ; ces personnages de Millet n’ont pas de visage, ils ont des attitudes et une gestuelle.
Sen dans son hommage à l’Angélus ne conserve que les mains jointes de la femme, pas de visage, pas de drapé, seulement le geste. Cette gestuelle, Sen la décline de façon quasi abstraite dans les tangos où le personnage, le geste et la danse ne font qu’un. On peut penser et c’est même une évidence, que la peinture est le résultat du geste du peintre. C’est une technique qu’applique Sen, le « coup-trait à al prima » qu’il s’agit de dépasser et d’intégrer dans un ensemble où le geste du peintre, là encore, dépasse la technique pure.
Et la couleur me direz-vous? Sen est indien, donc la couleur est partout, vive, voire criarde, toujours gaie. Il n’a certes pas été inspiré des préimpressionistes dans ce domaine même si pour ces derniers la couleur est importante et même si les marchands de couleurs de l’époque ont porté un coup sensible à sa conservation.
Les ciels que ce soit ceux de Millet ou de Diaz sont irrisés de couleurs, ils ne sont pas surréalistes comme Vézelay en jaune de Sen, ce sont les ciels de Barbizon, les mêmes qu’aujourd’hui.
Sen, le designer, est confronté au problème du beau et du pratique, de l’esthétique et de l’efficace. Le gesturisme c’est presque le design du geste, pur , efficace et expressif comme le dessinait Millet. C’est là ce qui lie, à mon sens, Sen à Millet et donc à Barbizon.
Emeritus Professor of Strategy & Former Director, HEC Paris Co-chairman, Baltic Management Institute, Sr Researcher, Institute for Global Industry, Tsinghua University
We have had the great pleasure to discover or rediscover the work of Sen Shombit, the French artist of Indian origin and the creator of Gesturism Art. Sen’s exhibition took place at the Espace Culture Rousseau in December 2016 in Barbizon, a village on the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau, just outside Paris, where have been painting the pioneers of Impressionism in the 1830’s.
The painters of the Barbizon School, which were part of the movement towards Realism in art, included leading personalities such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Théodore Rousseau, Jean-François Millet, Narcisse Diaz de la Peña, and Charles-François Daubigny. Sen is said to have been extremely moved by Jean-François Millet’s (The Angelus) paintings when he first came to Barbizon.
It is true that the atmosphere of the Fontainebleau forest and region has attracted many painters in recent history.
Alfred Sisley, the impressionist landscape painter, is famous for his paintings of the River Thames, executed in 1874, but also for his landscapes of the nearby medieval village of Morêt-sur-Loing, on the other side of the Forest of Fontainebleau.
Jean Cocteau has painted the reconstructed walls of a chapel in Milly-la-Forêt, a village located a few miles away from Barbizon, which origin goes back to the Knight Templars in 1136. The region is rich of medicinal plants, and the chapel embellished by Cocteau’s paintings is now known as the “Chapelle Saint-Blaise des Simples”.
Sen’s exhibition in Barbizon gave us a new opportunity to be moved by the magnificent colors, the energy, la joie de vivre, as well as the sensuality which emanates from his paintings.
We have also been honored to be among the first to discover the new Renault Kwid Art car which was painted by Sen at the Renault’s Design Center in Chennai, India. It is a very unique work of art and the expression of an imagination oriented towards freedom and hope.
Thank you Sen, for this unique bridge between Impressionism and Gesturism, between Indian and French culture!
Distinguished Indian Art critic.
Marked Gesture and Art Like many words appropriated from general usage and made into specific terms for use in a particular discipline,there is no entry of the word gesturism in the dictionary; nor of Gesturism art. Yet, when one views the oeuvre of Sen, Calcutta-suburb-born (1954) resident painter-cum-designer of France, one instantly recognizes his Gesturism art’s kinship with, and a long-line of descent from, a truly global visualinguistic technique.
The technique derives its identity from the noun, and its verb derivative – gesture. Gesture is a fleeting, voluntary or involuntary movement of the corporeal body and/ or its part. To an observer it conveys a meaning relating to the physical and/ or mental state causing the movement.
To Impressionists like Monet, and especially Post Impressionists like van Gogh, go the credit of recognizing the technique of painterly simulation of bodily gesture in the work of classical Japanese painters. Their purpose was visualization of the artist’s own response to extraneous stimulus so that beholders can experience sensuously. Sen never fails to pay his tribute to the modern Impressionists who appropriated from classical Japanese art, the irregular spatial shapes of tonal masses on two-dimensional surfaces.
This was achieved through gestural lay of colours, especially by obliterating mass-line differences in brushwork sweeps, swirls, strokes, dashes, touches and so on. Monet vastly expanded the potential of gestural application of colours to capture fleeting impressions of light and changing shapes. Van Gogh opened up possibilities of expressing very individual, psychological responses through enhanced usage of the visualinguistic technique.
So pregnant was the potential of this slap-dash a la prima technique that a large majority of later Post Impressionists and Expressionists turned it into wholes of their visual language. It may be contextual to mention that the gestural technique of visualization significantly affected sculptural practice too. A majority of Ramkinkar Baij’s work bear this out.
Like a diligent schoolman, Sen first mastered this technique of visualization. He then turned it into a personal idiom, giving it the nomenclature of Gesturism art. How does his idiom differ significantly from the practice of others who employ the gestural mode of visualization as their prime visualinguistic strategy? In his eagerness to transform the visualinguistic device into the whole of his visual language or idiom, Sen has succeeded in detaching his gestural marks from being responses to external stimulation, to being just simulations.
Simulations of what? Rhythmically moving bodies with fleeting stances became Sen’s obvious first choice in his own Gesturism expressions. His loving hands flow in foreplay before lovemaking with curves, contouring curvaceous female-figures. They provide the take-offs for gestural play of Sen’s brush. In the grand old tradition of quick indicative painterly marks to celebrate fleeting sights of scenic sites, Sen has brought alive his own retinal impressions of places associated with his much admired painters.
Through acts of mark-making, whatever Sen has done on two dimensional surfaces to indicate his retinal response, he has imbued it with joie de vivre. In fact, Sen has unequivocally declared that his Gesturism art celebrates life-like unpredictability; it is against mechanical predictability of much of digital art that post-modernism endorses. Thus in his art, Sen seems to display his loyalty to the great tradition of Impressionism of his adopted home.
Art collector, entrepreneur in France who gave Sen his first break in design in 1977.
The brilliance of his lines May 1976: A young Indian, without any immigration papers, postulates entry to my advertising agency in Paris to provide creative services. This was Sen Gupta.
Feverishly, he unwraps his illustration file before me. His comments reflect an anxiety and a desire to persuade me at all costs. The man has charm and charisma that does not displease me.
I am silent, already amazed by the range of the creativity he displayed in his profile. To confirm my positive impression, and to make sure he is the author of his sketches, I hold out a black marker and a sheet of paper. “Draw me a face and an animal’s head.” The brilliance of his lines captivates me.
The result leaves me speechless. He knows how to go beyond the drawing; his plots are rare, precise and leave food for the imagination. I seemed to imagine a little of Cocteau, a plot of Picasso.
“Now let’s see colors.” Seizing markers, an explosion of colors emerged. Swirls of warm colors, fireworks where each color is associated with one another in ways unpredictable and harmonious. I understand better now his dress choice, his flowered shirt and the unusual color of his jacket.
“Can you write my name with your drawing?” With comic letters, similar to those of a calligrapher, my title appears. He seems to know everything. Let’s test him concretely I thought. “My wife is going to open a fashion boutique. It has the following properties. Can you offer me a facade?”
His proposal had a semblance of Indian culture. It was unmistakable that he knows his subject and can find solutions with ease.
Sen is unlike all the other creative persons we had, he is a flamboyant artist. I committed to hire him in my agency. He worked wonders for us, he gave color to our creative service.
If I was involved in helping him to become a French citizen, I am proud. Years later when I had encountered difficulties, he was there for me immediately, still warm and affectionate.
Sen is more than a talented artist, he’s a beautiful person. I am honored to be his friend for more than 40 years now. Over these long years, he has insisted on calling me “Boss.” This is unfair because in communication he has become a student who has far exceeded his master.
Patrick Navarre-da* * For those unaware: da in Bengali means “big brother.” In French da is direction artistique or art director
Dr Una Chaudhuri
Professor of English, Drama, and Environmental Studies, New York University
To encounter Shombit Sen’s Gesturist paintings is to be immediately plunged into an immense field of form and color. Very soon, however, something else begins to happen: form and color begin to gather themselves into intensities, each contained within its canvas. The force of these intensities seems to lift the paintings off the background-the page or the wall-or, alternatively, they transform before your eyes from painted surfaces to dynamic depths: as if they’ve punched holes into the wall and revealed a pulsing, prismatic world beyond.
Sen’s term for this art-Gesturism-is suggestive rather than descriptive. It evokes a sense of embodied movement linked to deeply experienced meaning. It conjures a mode of creation that is as familiar as your fingertips yet as compelling as a mystic code. The works appear to register some combination of movement and meaning that has its origins in the artist’s instinct and its destination in the viewer’s soul. The paintings are the pathways for that journey, or perhaps they are the journey itself.
To join Sen on this journey is to accept an invitation to see the world as a process of ceaseless emergence, of hidden reality plunging into visibility. An invitation to be present as forms-faces, bodies, dances, landscapes, humans, animals-arise, enter into a frenzy of existence and transformation, and then subside. These forms are simple, generous, vivid: they give themselves to the viewer with great energy, holding nothing back. They animate the viewer, sharing their own life force with those in their orbit.
The gathered intensities-the paintings-gather further into groups or series, like notes in harmony or voices in conversation. This is the map that accompanies the invitation you felt when you first encounter the paintings. Or perhaps it is not so much a map as a structure: the architecture for your stay in this vibrant world. It is a vibratory architecture-it sends your eye back and forth, from painting to painting and back again. If you’re with “Colours of the Dance,” the vibration will teach you how to tango, whirl you in a waltz! If you’re in the orbit of “Love and Force,” the vibration will awaken your animal spirit, want to make you toss your head and flash your eyes! Other sequences are quieter, more contemplative, opening up inner and outer landscapes for you to rest within. They share with you what the artist loves: les paysages Français, la femme exquise.
These are gorgeous, dazzling paintings. They exude a vibrant presence that is both energizing and calming. They allow you to travel with one who views the world with enormous love and is blessed with the personal assurance-and the great artistic talent-to register that vision and share it with others. The paintings feel like an unexpected gift, something the world hands you on a good day and allows you to enjoy forever!
French Designer who has known Sen in his artistic domain since 1979.
Always rupture Sen my friend is a designer, strategy consultant, lecturer, writer, musician, singer, traveler, but above all, he is a painter! Our first meeting in Paris in 1978 was for a professional purpose. I was interviewing him for the position of art director in the design company I was working in. I was touched by Sen’s uniqueness and charisma.
Our relationship soon turned to friendship. He made me discover another facet of his personality, that his curiosity was continuous and insatiable. He wanted to learn everything about the French society that he had dreamt so much about.
I tried to answer his eclectic curiosity. It was a difficult task at that time when Google did not exist. The subjects of his questioning ranged from classical music, jazz rock, pop, politics, painting, cooking.
His love for painting and different art forms has guided him throughout his life as a lucky star. This book shows us the point of perfection of his work imbued with wisdom and serenity, sometimes turbulent, but always colorful and bright, bringing out an authentic vital force.
This is entirely the personality of the artist as a man: generous, sentimental, humanist, an insatiable curiosity and a relentless vision, he can be uncompromising.
Always looking for new experiences, new challenges, he absorbs life with generosity and insolence to make it rebound on his canvases. The gesture is his freedom. Gestures of liberty fly fast over his paintings with the precision of ideas.
Beauty is his absolute stroke, beauty of the female body, the beautiful face, beauty of the horse as a symbol of grace, power, freedom and beauty of a new world.
And then of course beauty and the magic of colors coexist, intersect, overlap on his colour palette to skillfully compose his paintings. Creation is his reason for living. His ongoing research on the most liberated expression of the spirit is the quest of his life, which he calls “Gesturism.”
This book opens up the soul of Sen as he is: impetuous, solar, tireless.
Eminent Indian art critic who knew Sen since the 1970s before Sen left India.
I’ve known Shombit Sen Gupta (Sen) since his early days in Kolkata Government Art College when he was about 19 only. He went to Paris and acquired a large understanding of western art in France and Europe. I was once his guest in Paris in the mid 1980s.
I spent some artistic time with him visiting different galleries that showed me in real life the art movements in Europe over the centuries. When I saw Sen’s paintings for the first time, it was very encouraging to note that his art had matured and come of age. His painting style I found to be post modern.
Sen has taken French and Indian elements and combined them in different kinds of colours and bold brush stroke treatments.
What is inspiring is that his drawings are strange, not seen before, and meticulous. Sen does drawings and paintings in real colours, water colours and pen and ink. His post modern paintings are in big and small canvases.
At one point in Paris he used to do paintings on what looks like newspaper wrappers that grocery stores in India use to put groceries for people to take home in. In normal course such bags are thrown away.
Sen used to make such bags out of drawing paper and paint on them. In childhood he used to actually make such sachets to earn a little money as his family was quite poor. Remembering the skill he acquired in making sachets, he would make the same shaped wrappers in different sizes of paper as well as in ceramics and paint on them.
In fact, with this he started a new style of artistic medium to paint in. The images he painted on these sachets would become distorted and swirling and curvy and look like stunning new art.
Sen’s new style has enriched his oeuvre and sent it to realms of art which is, I would say, breakthrough post modern. I like the way he treats the canvas.