Baniprosonno: The master of kinetic art | Calcutta News

KOLKATA: In his teens, this budding artist dropped out of school, ran away from his home in Bengal, and eventually landed in Delhi. With only a blanket and a carrying bag, he slept on the sidewalks for months. He worked in a factory for a few years in Kashmir, from where he drifted to Shimla. All of this so that he could earn just enough to paint and travel the world. Meet Baniprosonno, who has over 100 individual art exhibitions in both hemispheres and turns 82 on August 17. He has just returned from an invigorating Iceland-Mexico-Munich tour. He has an ongoing solo exhibition at a gallery in Merida, Mexico, until early March.
“I had run away from home because my family was strictly against my ambition. I haven’t even completed my registration. But I have no regrets. Later, my family was proud of me, ”says Baniprosonno.
“I had gone to Delhi where I started working in a ceramics factory. But I got involved in a strike at the factory and was kicked out. While I was working, I lived in working class neighborhoods. After they kicked me out, I had no place to stay. So I went to the sidewalk, with just a blanket and a bag of paint supplies. I drew greeting cards and I went door to door selling them. The diplomatic missions were still accessible at the time and some of the ambassadors and envoys helped me, ”he says.
That was the time, he sighs. “Now they would put me in jail. At the time, the police were cracking down on the poor, but one or the other cop would say, “Chhor de, yeh to photu banata hai” (leave him, he’s a painter). I spent months like this. Apart from greeting cards, I started making pieces of book illustrations for Rs 2-3. Greeting cards or original paintings would sell for a few annas. Money was valuable back then, you know. For a quarter of a rupee, one could get 1 kg of atta. In a dhaba, a few annas would bring in two big rotis, and would you believe it, the dal was free!
Finally, Baniprosonno connected with an art gallery in Delhi. “If they bought one of my paintings for Rs 5, I would be in seventh heaven. If I had Rs 10 I would feel like a king. In the meantime, I had also dived into pottery, with basic training in the factory where I worked. From Delhi, I went to Kashmir. A pottery factory manager there invited me to join him as a designer. I said all I needed was accommodation. He gave me a place to stay in Srinagar, and I established a base there for a few years. In Kashmir and Delhi I met artists who really encouraged me. I then returned to Delhi.
From Delhi, he drifted to Shimla. “The trip to Shimla was a turning point in my life. I met the woman who would soon be my wife, at a Bengali community event there. Shortly after, I had my first gallery exhibition, in 1951, ”he says.
The bond he shares with his wife Putul is visible and heartwarming. When he recounts certain events with “In 1984 …”, Putul nudges him and says: “It was in 1974.” When serving her guests a preparation of fish accompanied by a sauce, the boisterous octogenarian announces: “Take the fries if you want, but try the sauce.” It was prepared by the famous artist Baniprosonno. It’s impossible to miss the glint in his eyes. “If it hadn’t been daylight, I would have offered you something stronger than coffee.” I love having fish and a little of that, ”he winks. “Very mean,” his wife reprimands.
“I always dance in a nightclub, and in the bathroom, you instantly turn into a singer,” he jokes. “In Europe, an art lover saw my drawing and asked me, ‘Do you believe in rebirth? Your drawings have so much kinetic energy, you are going to be a great dancer in your next life. I even have poems published in Bengali, English and Hindi.
He is also known for his philanthropic bent. “Before leaving, Baniprosonno handed over 45 paintings and drawings to support the Gullkistan residence,” the Icelandic cultural center announced with gratitude in 2011. “By spreading my painting far and wide, I ensure my immortality,” he says with a straight face. . “Often times I would just ask for the cost of the framing and offer artwork. Someone came to me and told me he was finally ready to spend 300 rupees on a painting. I said, no need, give me 100 rupees. He refused and said, “My heart is weak and I walked in and out of the ICU. Your art is like Coramin to me. My eyes were wet, ”he recalls.
“I love organizing workshops with children. I hosted them all over the world. I teach them to make shapes of animals and birds out of paper, to have fun with alphabets. We would pick up stones on the road and wrap them in paper to give them different shades and patterns. My innovation “Akshay Akshar” (immortal alphabets) in 1969 was for a Unicef ​​program. Unesco’s partner, International Association of Art, approached me for a workshop. Discussions are also underway with the organizers in Paris. But I would really like to do one in Kolkata, ”he sighs. “Everyone draws because it’s an innate form of self-expression. Children draw spontaneously and this is the best creative outlet, ”he enthuses instantly, giving a glimpse of the Peter Pan he nurtures.


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