Artist : Bhaskar Chitrakar
Title : Kali-Kahlo with Saree, Cat, and flowers Medium : Natural colours on paper
Size : 11" x 15"
Year : 2023
BHASKAR CHITRAKAR lives in Kalighat and actively practices the patachitra art form in its traditional medium of natural ground colours on paper. When introduced to Frida Kahlo, he resonated with her love of colour, animals and flowers, the symbolism in her works, her respect for her ancestry, her clothes, her gaze. And the “Kali-Kahlo” series was born.
Bhaskar has used powder pigments on paper for his self-portraits of Frida in Kalighat. Flowing Mexican clothes are replaced by Indian ethnic wear. What remains unchanged is the essence of the woman, her steadfast gaze, her untrimmed unibrow, her mask-like face appropriating her viewer.
Bhaskar’s patachitras have always used symbols, his crows, cats, roses and dogs representing a life of leisure lived by the ‘babus’ of the British era. Kahlo’s symbols are articulations of her life and her female identity - thorns, flowing hair, hummingbirds, jewellery and wild pets. She is both warrior and martyr. Bhaskar respects her courage, and presents her as a strong woman of Bengal. The artist's contemporary versions of the Kalighat patachitra are now an art form in themselves, particularly the very popular Kali-Kahlo series, where the feminist Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is portrayed as a feisty and beautiful Bengali woman.