Chitta Ranjan Pakrashi looks like another senior citizen of Delhi out for an evening stroll in an art gallery. But this retired government servant-cum-chronicler of Bengalis in the city also has an artistic side which came out at his solo show, which is on at All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society from November 22 till Wednesday.
As he walked amid his works, Pakrashi didn't look like he was 91. He showed the oldest of his paintings — a lithograph of a rural scene which he had created as a student of Government Art School in Kolkata in 1942 - and a bunch of fresh ones done months before the exhibition with the enthusiasm of a 19-year-old rookie artist.
There is an air of honesty yet artistic brilliance in this Kailash Colony resident's works. Bright, bold colours, play with forms, shapes, textures and subtlety and a love for nature are distinguishing feature of this artist, who is also an acknowledged stamp designer having credited with creating numerous stamps for over 60 years both in India and abroad.
Pakrashi recalls that he really started painting post-retirement in 1981 and the push came from artist and friend Bimal Dasgupta. "He was the one who told me to dedicate myself to painting as a fulltime artist."
When asked how he felt about being able to work with such dexterity even post-90, a smile accompanied the reply. "I believe that work is worship and age is never a factor if you have the right intentions. Surprisingly, a British boss of mine, Major P.W.R. Homfrey, used to say this. He was like you are working for your country, not for us."
Another feather on his cap is that Pakrashi is one of the very few in the country who has worked with three different governments -- The American government as a mapmaker in Kolkata (1943-45), British government in Delhi (1945-47) and the Indian government (1947-1981).
"It has changed a lot. When I came in the pre-Independence years, Delhi was developing. Now it has developed and become home for me and many others, who had migrated decades back," he said.