Friday Review » Art

Updated: April 13, 2012 18:51 IST

Many faces

Harshini Vakkalanka
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There stands a Bengali babu smoking alone, lost in his thoughts. While his Bengali lady (could it be his wife) stands alone in another window of the world of the Bengali middle-class. The lady and the man are a part of artist Lalu Prasad Shaw's specialised collection of profiles of Bengali men and women.

Some of these profiles, largely done in tempera or pen and ink, are currently on display at Gallery Time and Space.

Each of his profiles, inspired by the Kalighat paintings, usually contains only one character, though sometimes he also paints couples.

If it's a woman, she seems to be waiting for something (or someone) as she combs her hair, runs her fingers through it or ties it up in a ribbon. She stands in her clean and bright cotton sari, reposing against a wall or a piece of furniture, watching a cat or a wilted vase of flowers or simply looks away wistfully.

She is always boxed into a frame standing, sitting or posing.

Her eyes are always averted, looking inwards, but never directly looking at the viewer. Once she even holds out an apple to her man and once she stands alone holding out the apple in her palm.

But the man is lost in his thoughts, smoking, eating a banana, sniffing a flower. And he is always standing with his umbrella in his hands.

Lalu's profiles exude simplicity and authenticity. His lines and colours are clean and bold. His lines contain the mood in their sparse strokes, especially around the eyes. With his use of bright tempera colours, the image simply soaks into the viewer's mind.

Lalu's works are inspired by his own life in Bengal and his fondness for the babus and the beautiful women. He looks out for beautiful women because he feels they become good subjects for his paintings.

He also believes that people should be able to view his work peacefully, without thinking too much about what they mean.

This is his first solo exhibition in Bangalore, though he has exhibited extensively in India and around the world since 1956. His works have been displayed in forums like second British Biennale in London, 1970, two Norwegian Print Biennales in 1974 and 1978, the seventh Paris Biennale in 1971 and the second Asian Art Biennale hosted by Bangladesh in 1984.

Lalu Prasad Shaw's works will be on display at Gallery Time and Space, 55, Lavelle Road, until April 14. For details, call 22124117.

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