A late start in art: Artist Lalu Prasad Shaw turns to sculpture at age 80
Around 20 years ago, artist Lalu Prasad Shaw used to work at Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan, West Bengal. At the photography studio in Santiniketan, he would come across Bengali babus (middle-class gentlemen) dressed in a dhoti, often sporting a cane or holding an umbrella, and posing for photos. The ladies (bibi) would come decked up in their best saris, and often pose with flowers or a mirror.
Shaw spent a lot of time observing their behaviour and they became his muse. He is best known for his images of babus and bibis, depicted in tempera (coloured pigments mixed in egg yolk and water).
Now, at age 80, Shaw is back to depicting the middle-class Bengali, but this time, in the medium of bronze sculptures. Beginning this weekend, 12 of his works will be on display at Gallery 7, as part of Babu and Bibi, Shaw’s first-ever exhibition of bronze sculptures.
However, Shaw is not new to the medium. He has experimented with scrap metal models in the past and trained students in clay modelling. “I wanted to see what my two-dimensional paintings would look like in a three-dimensional format. That led me to experiment with bronze sculptures,” he says, adding, “Once you have the inspiration for the artwork, the medium doesn’t matter much.”
His paintings were often minimal, but they managed to capture the expressions, mannerisms and the vanity of the people he depicts. “I have been inspired by artist Jamini Roy’s works based on the Kalighat tradition, and how he uses flat colours [uniform in tone and shade] to achieve a simple, two-dimensional form,” he says.
The sculptures on display have been made over a span of two years, with intermittent breaks. “I cannot work at a stretch because of my age. So, I work for an hour, take a break, and start all over again. But I am quite satisfied with the results,” he says.
Babu and Bibi is on display from April 22 to May 20, 10.30am to 7pm
At Gallery 7, Oricon House, K Dubash Road, Kala Ghoda
Call 2218 3996