Kolkata: Celebrated contemporary painter, social and political activist Shuvaprasanna has donned all mantles with ease. He has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Gunter Grass and MF Husain but refuses to call himself successful.
"I can`t use the word successful for me. You can say I`m a bit successful because people love my work, I`ve a roof over my head and I get my daily bread. But as a painter I am still to be successful," the much-feted artist told IANS in an interview.
"The day I feel I am satisfied and successful I`ll stop painting," said Shuvaprasanna whose new series of 20 paintings of Radha and Krishna christened `Evocative Expressions` carries forward his fascination with the legend of Krishna and his allure for the godly couple.
The 65-year-old bearded painter, awarded by the Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata, the Lalit Kala Akademi, Kolkata, as well as the All India Fine Arts and Craft Society, New Delhi, has been motivated by the ecstasies and agonies of people. He is also head of a railway panel.
Inclined towards art since childhood, he weathered many a storm to become a painter.
"For my doctor father, medical science was a mission. And as his abiding son I was supposed to inherit his vocation. Since childhood, I would spend hours in my father`s clinic, drawing portraits of patients," Shuvaprasanna said.
"People would appreciate my work and pamper me. I decided I`ll pursue painting. My father did not talk to me for years when I told him," he added.
Nobel laureate, author and artist Gunter Grass had a profound influence on Shuvaprasana.
"My best friend Gunter always told me that as a writer, poet, sculptor or painter, we can`t be ignorant. We have to be aware of our society and work for it. I draw but not just because I can adorn someone`s drawing room. There is a message in my work," he added.
Shuvaprasana has to his credit a body of paintings, graphics, drawings and pastels, each novel and elegant, including 20-odd thematically and stylistically varied series.
Eager on experimenting, reflected in his canvasses are the diverse facets of existence - including endurance, elegance, reverence, love making, life and panorama - all equally appealing and thought-provoking.
Crows are an integral part of many of his creations. "Living in this city you can`t ignore crows. They are more like humans, very naughty, very wise, very nasty, crooked and at times very innocent."
"Poet laureate Ted Hughes has written a sequence of poems on the bird. I was very charmed by Ted`s poems and thought of inviting him to Kolkata for a programme where his poems would be recited and my paintings exhibited," he said.
Twice Shuvaprasanna wrote to him and on both occasions the poet replied praising his work and accepting his invitation. But he did not give a date.
"Suddenly I came across a newspaper obituary. It was of Hughes! The man was suffering from cancer; he was on death bed. How could he have given me a date?"
He credits M.F. Husain for making art commercially viable.
"Husain was very upset as he was severely criticised for portraying (former prime minister) Indira Gandhi as goddess Durga. That time people hated her as she had proclaimed Emergency (1975-77)," the painter said.
"He explained why he had made that painting. He accepted that the timing was wrong but he thought Indira was a strong woman much like Durga. He was sad because people failed to appreciate his work."
Shuvaprasanna was one of the leading intellectuals who campaigned for a change of regime in previously Left Front-ruled West Bengal alongside Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who is now chief minister.
"I joined her because she is pro-people. She has been and continues to be a remarkable leader."
Shuvaprasanna added one more feather to his cap when as head of the Railways Passenger Amenities Committee, he was instrumental behind the launch of the monthly magazine Rail Bandhu in May.