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Bahar Chitrakar, Patachitra
Address: Village & P.O: Naya
P.S: Pingla
West (Pashchim) Medinipur 721140
West Bengal

61 year old Bahar Chitrakar aka Ranjit Chitrakar is an acclaimed patachitra painter whose work is one of a kind. He is a National Award winner and his paintings are showcased at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His great grandfather was a patachitra artist, as is his grandson. The tradition carries on.  


Bahar learnt from his father, the  late Khandu Chitrakar as a young boy. He was taught to make dyes from plants and vegetables, and later to compose songs and paint the scrolls. After his father`s death when Bahar was 12 or 13, he continued training under his paternal uncles. Married at 18, he completed his training under the guidance of his father-in- law, the famous Pulin Chitrakar. It was only after this that he commenced roaming village fairs displaying his own work.  


Some of the amazing patachitras he has made are 24 feet long. Each of these took him six months to a year to complete. He was also recruited by World Wildlife Fund for several years during the eighties, creating scrolls about environment and conservation. He was taken to the turtle markets, so that he could compose  songs and create scrolls about sea turtle conservation. 


With scrolls getting smaller due to lack of space in modern homes, the story being told through the frames in these patachitras had become considerably  abridged. To address this inconvenience, Bahar has, for the last few years, been employing a device of multiple smaller frames instead of a few large frames within a 2 feet scroll. This has helped his sales, he says. 


Bahar`s tryst with the Kalighat style began in the year 2000, with his introduction to some Kalighat paintings by a well wisher. With the permission from the family of one of the last Kalighat style painters, Shirish Pal aka Shirish Chandra Chitrakar, (son of the national award winner in 1965, Rajani Chitrakar), Bahar  developed his own Kalighat based style for which he has become renowned since. Of his four sons, Shahjahan and Seramuddin have also made a name for themselves with their equally marvelous patachitras. While the  V&A houses some of his Kalighat style works, his art has also been bought by numerous museums. 


Bahar is pained by the fact that genuine artists are often overlooked by buyers and government alike in favour of mere sellers of patachitra paintings, posturing as painters. This has been a very real concern for many years and is true of other folk arts as well. But Bahar soldiers on, with his toothless grin, warm voice and a twinkle in his eye, painting, exhibiting and conducting workshops across India and winning numerous awards along the way. 

Images
Bahar Chitrakar : Krishna Leela
Videos
Bahar Chitrakar : Durga Puja
Audios
Bahar Chitrakar : Song on Mujibur Rahman