Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Picasso? Who is that?"

(This post is posted on 8th April. 2009, and not on 01/04/09.
An error with the post options!!!)

Today is the 36th death anniversary or Pablo Picasso.

I still remember the day when the news of his death was announced....

That was a long, long time ago. (8th April, 1973).

I was a 4th year, Fine Art section student from the Govt. College of Art and Craft.

That particular morning , I was, as usual, late for the classes.

I was rushing up the wooden stairs as fast as I could, in an attempt to reach my classroom before our professor came in for the roll-call.

I could see the big clock on the 1st floor wall showing it was well past 9.30 am!

When I entered the classroom, which was on the 2nd floor of the building, I found that our professor had not yet come to the class. I heaved a sigh of relief.. "Good that I made it!"

My classmates and I settled down and tried to concentrate on our unfinished paintings.
In a few weeks time, we'd be having our final exam.

While we were arranging our colours and brushes,
suddenly we heard quite a bit of noise coming from the 1st floor.

My classmates and I went out to find out what all the commotion was about.
We leaned on the wooden railings and saw many students talking to our principal Shri. Chintamoni Kar ,
whose official residence was on the first floor of the building.

As I did not speak Bengali, and did not understand the language too.
The first few things that rushed to my mind were ,
"What happened again?... is it another Student Union agitation? .... not again!!.. Please, no Strikes or Bandhs... Final exams are just around the corner... "

(In fact, during the early '70s, the movement of all the Union strikes and bandhs were just taking shape like a strong wave. Which, later, became one of the main factors for seeing the state of West Bengal losing out many industries. Of course, that's a different story which I am not going to indulge in here!! )

While I was still wondering what was happening, I saw one of my close friends , who was also my
Rakhi brother,,
the final year, commercial art section student, Xitij Joshi, was actively negotiating with the principal too.

I went down to the first floor.
I asked Joshi why he and the rest of the students were arguing with the principal?

I gathered the news from him that Pablo Picasso had died just some time ago....

Joshi and his group of friends were demanding that the principal should announce a holiday on that day to honour Picasso's death.

I heard our principal in his usual gentle manner,
" Why don't you honour Picasso by working harder today as a true artist like him, instead of taking a day off from your creative work? And Picasso did express he would prefer no holiday to be decleared on behalf of his death."

"Every great man's death we declear a holiday! And when it is Picasso's death, why a holiday should not be called?! ... We don't meet a Picasso in our life that often...!!" Those were the students' answers to the principal... And the loudest voice was from my friend Joshi.

"Wow, I did not know Joshi is a great admirer of Picasso!" I was thinking...

Honestly, at that age, while we were in an academic institute, we were encouraged to concentrate on straight lines, curves, light and shade...
We were trying hard to find inspirations from artists like ...Titian, Raphael, Velazquez, Botticelli
etc., ....
and the impressionists ..

Picasso !!!

He was a living legend!! His works were far too deep and complex for us to even dare to imitate!!
I was really envying that Joshi was deeper than us...!

Anyway, the arguments went on between the Principal and the students for quite a while.

At last our Principal came up with a wise decision.

He said, " Alright, those who want to honour Picasso by believing one should work hard, especially today, may go back to the classrooms and carry on with the classworks. And those want to honour Picasso with a day off can go home, he or she will not be marked absent."

Many of us opted going back to class and work harder on that day.
And Joshi and his other group of friends were happy that they could take a day off .

Before we went back to the classrooms. Joshi got me on the side , laughingly, he asked me "Sandy, tell me who is this Picasso?"

I thought he was joking!!!

"You don't know who is Picasso????" I asked.

" No! I heard about him only this morning . "

"Joshi!! You don't know Picasso???" I could not believe what he had just said.
"He is the greatest living legend of the modern art. " And I went on..."I thought you are a great admirer of him!.. that's why you insisted so hard to honor him with a holiday!! But then why ??"

Cheekily he said " When I saw so many students demanding to call for a holiday today, I figured that this Picasso must be a great man, otherwise why so much fuss?... Honestly,
I actually did not know he is an artist too....! I thought he is some politician from India...."

I simply could not believe Joshi could be this crazy!!

Later on the day, I noticed he did not go home. I found him in the college compound/ canteen area whole day happily sipping tea and whiling away the day.

After the classes were over, I met him again and I asked him " Joshi, why didn't you go home? I thought you fought so hard for a holiday today!....What is the difference between inside the classroom and outside the classroom?"

He had no answer!! First, he gave a laugh and shrugged his shoulders... And then he just could not stop laughing ....!!

P.S.Joshi had never participated in any Union movement,
neither in his college days nor after that.
He went off to America after he finished his final year in the Art College.
We lost contact with him.
Anyway, this crazy friend of ours, definitely added colours

in our lives when we were in the college.
Those days when we were dreaming to be a Van Gogh, a Rembrandt, a Monet, a Cezanne,... and later, dare to dream of being a Picasso.....

(another crazy idea of Joshi's, here with his guitar, he did not know any chord and did not play the guitar, but he said keeping the guitar was to win the admiring looks especially from the girls!!!)

( These black and white pictures are all Joshi's photographs)

(L-R: Mukta, me, Subroto and *Bendang*, my three senior friends who guided me especially in sketches )

(with my fresco painting. Final year in College)

(me holding *Bendang's painting: Life Study- a portrait).

(L-R: *Bendang*, Subroto, me, Joshi and Jyotsna, the other two senior friends who helped me especially in sketches)

*Bendang* was the best student amongst us... he is still the best artist among us...he still paints seriouly... and the rest of us? Most probably are taking a holiday just like Joshi did on 8/4 /1973...

8th April 2009

1 comment:

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