JOGEN CHOWDHURY

Born: 16 February 1939

Jogen Chowdhury - Paintings

Biography

An artist whose works have its own iconic quality, Jogen Chowdhury was born in Faridpur, Bengal (now Bangladesh) on the 16th of February 1939 to a large family. His father, Pramathanath used to paint and draw even on the reverse zamindari papers though he was not a trained artist. Right from childhood, Jogen experienced a troubled life with the aftermath of Partition, displacement from a comfortable homeland and a difficult upbringing in a Kolkata refugee settlement. He lived and experienced the most transformative phase of modern Indian history.

As an artist, Jogen has had a chequered and eventful career. He is one of those young men who had to move to Calcutta from East Bengal early in life and work hard to establish himself. Jogen Chowdhury studied at Government College of Arts and Crafts, Kolkata, the Studio Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, and the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Trained to be an artist in reputed schools inside and outside the country he had to work, initially as a designer and later as the curator of an art collection to support himself; which experience he, however, still values. He was also, on the side, an art activist involved with various artist groups and art journals. But his real vocation was to be a teacher, though the chance to be one came to him rather late in life. But it was a chance worth waiting; as this brought him to Kala Bhavana (Santiniketan) - an art institution which had from the beginning upheld the necessity for academic freedom, creative innovation , and cross-cultural interaction. He could not have asked for a better placement. With a sense of social commitment and keen concern for the environment, Jogen took full advantage of it. He had an inborn talent to get close to his students, to put his enthusiasm into them then pipe out their potential. Besides this, a keen desire to inform them about the specialty of their environment and need to be responsive to it if they wanted to discover their true language of expression. At a time when the rapid commercialization of the art scene is floating around various facile stereotypes his stress on this is most timely and appropriate. Jogen is however a widely traveled artist and has many foreign artist friends. His work is appreciated by many, cutting across cultural barriers. So when he pleads for responsiveness to the environment he is not being chauvinistic; he has enough evidence to show that the world accepts an artist more readily when he is genuinely himself than when he conforms to a running stereotype. What it looks for is authenticity and depth, not easy legibility. Jogen’s students adore him. And he, on his side, tales a lot of interest on their welfare. In a country where the official support for the growth of a wholesome art environment is scanty, and often ill-conceived, he is always thinking of establishing self supporting agencies. If in this effort, his co-workers and followers share his enthusiasm in full measure he is sure to succeed.

His most recent solo exhibitions include ‘Jogen Chowdhury: Formative to Recent’, Centre of International Modern Art (CIMA), Kolkata, in 2014; ‘Lignes de Meditation’, Chennai, in 2012-13; ‘A Calligraphy of Touch and Gaze’ ICIA, Mumbai, in 2008; New Delhi, in 2007; the Centre of International Modern Art (CIMA), Kolkata, in 2006; and New York, in 2002. Chowdhury’s works have been exhibited in several group shows including ‘Ideas of the Sublime’, at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, in 2013; ‘Figure / Landscape: Part Two’, London, in 2010-11; ‘Dali’s Elephant’, London, ‘Paper Trails’, New Delhi, ‘Pretty Ugly’, Kolkata, ‘Image and symbol: Painters Perception’, Kolkata, in 2010; ‘Modern Continuous’, Kolkata, in 2009; ‘Inverting, Inventing, Traditions’, London, in 2007; Drawing Show an Act of Art II’, Mumbai, in 2006; New York, in 2002 and 2001; the ‘Festival of India’ Geneva, in 1989; the II Havana Biennale, in 1986; and the Sao Paulo Biennale, in 1979. The artist lives and works in Santiniketan, West Bengal.

Jogen Chowdhury - Artwork

Text Reference:
1. Jogen Chowdhury: His Life and Times, published by CIMA Gallery on 2006, p.15
2. Excerpt from the book Jogen Chowdhury “Retrospective 1955-2013", ‘Speaking of Jogen by KG Subramanyan’ published by Kalakriti Art Gallery, p.8-9

Awards

  • Prix le France de la Jeune Peinture, 1966
  • Shiromani Award, Kolkata, 1997
  • Shiromani Award, Kolkata, 1997

Books

  • Jogen Chowdhury: His Life and Times
  • Enigmatic Visions from the Glenbarra Art Museum
  • Jogen Chowdhury
  • Retrospective
  • Jogen Chowdhury: Formative to Recent
  • Jogen Chowdhury: Lignes de Méditation
  • Jogen Chowdhury: Drawings, Doodles and Sketches
  • Jogen Chowdhury: Abahoman Flowing Life
  • Jogen Chowdhury: Painted Drawings

Top 10 Auction Records

Title Price Realized
Story of Woman, I ‘Love Making’ II ‘Submission’ III ‘Romance’ IV ‘Aggression’ INR 31,950,450
Day Dreaming GBP 373,250
Untitled (Four Figures) USD 284,800
Untitled (Couple No.1 Man and Woman) GBP 221,000
Man Sitting on Sofa INR 10,025,395
Head USD 132,000
Ganesh with Crown USD 118,750
Woman on a Chair USD 115,000
Untitled (Couple) INR 9,225,000
Portrait of a Man USD 108,000