Art in India had never been a profession which
could provide the artist with enough resources to sustain a life
time. Most artists in the past had to remain employed in some job
while doing art in the free time. Artists like
Abanindranath Tagore and then
Nandalal Bose remained art teachers. The
condition of one of the greatest artists of the time
was even worse.
He had to make clay idols for commercial sale, paint name boards,
decorate rickshaws and carriages and design local jatra posters.
independence the situation improved.
But even then most painters could not think of doing only painting
for sustenance. Thus
Ganesh Pyne had
to do illustration work for children's books, while Ganesh Haloi,
another artist of the
Society of Contemporary Artists was employed in the Archeological Survey of India.
remained a bureaucrat for a
But at least these artists were working in
organisations where their talents had some use. More unfortunate are
the ones who had to work in such organisations where art had the
least of use. Prokash Karmakar is one such artists. Driven by
penury, he had to join the army only to get entirely disillusioned
and leave it later for art again.
continued as an officer
for the Central Statistical Organisation till retirement and Bhupen Khakar remained an
, artists like
Sanjay Bhattacharya had
worked for a long time for an advertisement agencies,
Devajyoti Ray started
as a Government Officer and
Shakila sold vegetables for her
livelihood. The immense variety of people coming from such
diversified fields is also a reason for diversity that we are seeing
these days in
Prokash Karmakar, is the perfect example of that proverbial
artist who passes through penury and sufferings without ever
abandoning his craft and then one day emerging as a master to
enthrall the world. Born in 1934, Prokash Karmakar suffered
poverty since childhood. His father, a good artist himself
made no money from art. Yet Prokash joined the
Government College of Art
In 1949, Prokashís parents died, forcing
Prokash to abandon his art studies and join the army. But he
left army again and took up art for a living. Now his
situation became so precarious, that he had to start selling
his works on the street. Since then he had developed a
penchant for exhibiting his works on the streets. No other
artist in India has exhibited his works on the streets the way
Prokash Karmakar always does.
Success never came easy for the artist. In 1962, he tried to
form a society of artists in Kolkata, which was to work
parallel to the now established
of Contemporary Artists
. But after a few years, the group
fizzled out and Prokash abandoned the Group to travel abroad to Paris to
Prakash Karmakar's works where men and women disguised as mythical
figures are shown in bold flat colours.
Medium and Techniques of
Prokash is predominantly an
and oil artist. He has tried in various
like pastel, ink and even water colours, but the best of
Prokash Karmakar had been canvas works either in oil or acrylic.
Karmakarís works show thick lines to draw human figures and then
simplified back grounds. The patches Karmakarís works are painted flatly
in bold colours.
Karmakar in his younger days had depicted the degeneration in moral
terms of the society that he lived in. In his younger days his sympathy
lied with the naxalite movement in Bengal. But in his later day
paintings, his themes mostly moved towards simple peaceful village life.
He sometimes depicted village people in the models of mythical figures
like Krishna and Radha.