21 June 1915
|Died||13 November 1978|
Chittaprosad Bhattacharya is India's most recognized political artist of the mid-20th century. He preferred watercolor and printmaking, avoiding oil on canvas. Chittaprosad used prints to disseminate leftist ideas and propaganda.
Born in 1915, Chittaprosad became radicalized as a student of the Chittagong Government College in the mid-1930s. He joined the grassroots movement to resist both colonial oppression by the British, and also the feudal oppression of the landed Indian gentry. Chittaprosad rejected the classicism of the Bengal School and its spiritual preoccupations. Due to his refusal to accept the discriminations of the caste system, Chittaprosad never used his Brahminical surname during his life. He wrote articles and produced incisive cartoons and illustrations that displayed a natural talent for draughtsmanship.
Career and style
Chittraprosad’s most creative years began in the 1930s. He satirized and sharply criticized the feudal and colonial systems in quickly drawn but masterful pen and ink sketches. The artist/reformer was also proficient at creating linocuts and woodcuts with obvious propagandistic intent. Since these cheaply made prints were created for the masses rather than the art gallery, they were seldom signed or numbered. With time they took on value as art, and today are prized by collectors.
In 1943 Chittaprosad covered the Bengal Famine for various communist publications. This resulted in his first publication, Hungry Bengal. It was a sharply provocative attack on the political and social powers of the time, and the authorities suppressed it nearly immediately, impounding and destroying large numbers.
Chittaprosad settled more permanently in Bombay from 1946 onward. The transformations that the Communist Party took between 1948 and 1949 caused the artist to disassociate himself, though he continued to pursue political themes in his art to the end of his life. In the years before his death, the artist devoted more and more time to the world peace movement, and various efforts to help impoverished children.
- Manifestations II, Rabina Karode, Delhi Art Gallery 2004, ISBN 81-902104-0-8
- Manifestations I, Santo Datta, Delhi Art Gallery, 2003, New Delhi
- Collection of Indian Printmaking, www.waswoxwaswoartcollection.blogspot.com
- Manifestations III, Geeta Doctor, Delhi Art Gallery, 2005, ISBN 81-902104-1-6