Kalam Patua : Becoming of a New Subjectivity
from Changing Paradigms of the ‘folk’
The term subjectivity does appear with a meaning which is something slightly different from the term identity, although the two terms have sometimes been used interchangeably. But subjectivity as a critical concept invites us to consider the question of how and from where identity arises, to what extent it is understandable, and to what degree. It is something over which we have any measure of influence or control. Kalam Patua’s unique ability to transform the routine everyday of the middle-class life into metaphors derived from Indian mythology makes his work both complex and nuanced. In the post-independence period gradually all other centers of patachitra practice except that of Medinipur have faded away, as patuas in those areas have shifted from their tradition in search for better life. While the success of Kalam Patua is of individualist nature, the success of Medinipur patuas is in contrast bearing a collective nature. Many researcher/writers have inappropriately associated Kalam Patua as ‘the last from the Kalighat’, whereas the present paper is an attempt to understand a new becoming of an artist. While the Kalighat artists broke away from the pre-modern traditions of Patua repertoire with a modernist approach incorporating influences of the Bazar lithographs, western water colours and targeted the village audience for their patronage. In contrast Kalam Patua’s paintings attend to the global audience/patronage. His repertoire is a complex synthesis of the traditional Kalighat, Birbhum/ Murshidabad idiom of patachitra, miniature paintings as well as works of Jamini Roy and the world of modern art.