Archives: Timeline Stories

Timeline Post Type Description

Astonishing exposure to Western art movements

Sen’s academic learning of art started at the Government College of Art and Craft, Calcutta, the first British art school in Asia set up in 1869. Sen was deeply impressed by the Modern Art Movement in France since 1870. This sparked his big dream to go to France by any means.

First turning point was intro to France

Sen’s father, an active Communist Party leader, was anti-British. He influenced Sen about France being very advanced in art, human rights and camaraderie. Adolescent Sen got immersed into French art and culture while going to Chandernagore, the erstwhile French territory across the Ganges river from his home. Drawing and painting had become a part of his life by then.

Art mentors

Many of these East Bengal refugees practiced different crafts for livelihood generation. Watching shell bangle makers, idol and doll craftsmen and clay potters, Sen got involved with clay modeling. He used to spend more time drawing and painting than in his school studies. Subhinoy, an artist friend of his parents who lived outside the refugee camp, inspired Sen to hone his drawing skill. However, he advised Sen never to become an artist to avoid ultimately dying in poverty as his experience was that art has no future in India.

Art overcomes hardship

At the age of 5, Sen with his mother in front of their thatched roof, bamboo wall and mud floor squatted home at Shohidnagar refugee camp, 50 km outside Calcutta. Sen grew up here without electricity, sanitation or potable water. His parents had come here as refugees from East to West Bengal during the chaotic partition of India and Pakistan on religious grounds (East Bengal was renamed East Pakistan, and liberated as Bangladesh since 1971). More than a million were killed in riots and 15 million displaced during Independence. From an early age Sen was enormously influenced by the artisans in his neighbourhood.