Patrick Navarre

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