Sunday, July 20, 2014


Chittaprosad Bhattacharya (or just 'Chittaprosad'--he dropped his surname as a protest against the caste system) is probably India's most well-known political artist. His works seek to disseminate Communist ideas and for some time he was even a member of the CPI. He largely uses pen and ink sketches and has also used linocuts, making his work quite striking.

To quote from the Oracle of our time, Wikipedia:

Chittaprosad’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.
In case you're in Bombay, you can catch a retrospective of Chittaprosad at the Delhi Art Gallery located in Kala Ghoda which is on till 2 August 2014.

If, however, you can't make it, you could instead check out some of my rather horrible camera phone pics of his sketches up at the Delhi Art Gallery here.

Trivia: Chittaprosad designed the posters for Bimal Roy's Do Bigha Zameen but was never credited for it in the movie itself.