The artist is born on October 18 in Dacca (now Dhaka, in Bangladesh).
Moves to Calcutta and comes across books on European art and artists
such as Monet, Cezanne, van Gogh and Gauguin, which are imported
to cater to the needs of the soldiers of the Allied Forces in the city.
Sen’s work begins to reflect certain changes due to this exposure: an
unrestrained palette, bold lines, and an almost pointillist technique.
He joins as art teacher at Daly College, Indore.
Forms Calcutta Group, the first Indian modernist artist collective that
consciously draws on European modernism. Fellow artists include
Gopal Ghose, Prodosh Das Gupta, Gobardhan Ash, Subho Tagore,
Rathin Maitra, and Rabin Mondal. The group’s guiding slogan—‘Man
is supreme, there is none above him’—and inaugural exhibition
creates a stir in the art community.
Seeing an advertisement for a passage to Liverpool for £35 via the
Scindia Steam Navigation Company, Sen finds ways to collect enough
money for the journey as well as clothes. He visits Michael Brown, the
editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India, who commissions the artist
to design six covers at Rs. 200 each.
Arriving in London, he earns money for his final destination—Paris—
freelancing for the Indian section of B.B.C., and the occasional sale
of his paintings.
Surendra Singh Alirajpur, the second secretary at the Indian Embassy
in Belgium, also an old student of Indore’s Daly College, organises
an exhibition of Sen’s works in Brussels. He is the first Indian artist
to exhibit in Brussels and the show is a sell-out, providing Sen with
enough money to live in Paris for a year.
He arrives in Paris to study at Andre Lhote’s School, Académie de
la Grande Chaumière, École des Beaux-Arts (mural painting) and at
École du Louvre (history of painting), Paris.
With the help of Nirode Majumdar, Sen, and fellow artist Sankho
Chaudhuri, visit Brancusi in his studio in Montparnasse.
Paritosh Sen is heavily influenced by the styles and works of artists
such as Picasso, Matisse, and Brancusi, which is evident in his use of
strong, bold lines, mixed palette and overall composition.
He attends the inauguration ceremony of the annual art exhibition,
Salon de Mai, in Paris, and comes face to face with Picasso. The next
day Sen visits Picasso in his apartment-cum-studio at Rue Gay Lussac
to show the master his works. Picasso offers to organise an exhibition
for him. However, Sen has made up his mind to return to India.
Returns to Calcutta. Although upset by the poverty around him, he
is hopeful when he witnesses groups of rickshawallahs and others
singing and dancing after a long day’s work, and thus begins to paint
works with everyday life as his theme.
Moves to Netarhat near Ranchi to join Netarhat Vidyalaya as art
teacher. The green, rugged landscape of Netarhat and its locals find
their way into his compositions.
Returns to Calcutta and joins Regional Institute of Printing Technology,
Jadavpur, as a layout and design teacher.
Holds an exhibition of his recent works at Artistry House (now Park
Hotel) which draws a lot of critical applause from the art community.
Holds a solo exhibition, based on Indian ragas and raginis, in London.
He is invited by the Government of France to spend a year in Paris
during which he designs the Bengali typeface, based on Rabindranath
In the same year, the West Bengal government commissions a
documentary on his work.
Sen’s works turn darker to reflect his ideological support for the
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi unveils Paritosh Sen’s portrait of
Jawaharlal Nehru in Hyderabad.
Sen creates a series of new paintings reflecting human anguish and
turbulence. The titles of the paintings are revealing enough: The
Human Condition, Man Descending Through Space, The Fall, and
Paints portraits, two of them commemorating the famous singer
Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan. For Sen, these works present the perfect
amalgamation of his love for Indian music as well as his own strength
as an artist. Santi P. Chowdhury writes, ‘One could stand before the
canvases and hear the Ustad sing.’
The bold, black lines in his work give way to a burst of overlapping
colours such as green, blue, red, yellow, and brown.
Leaves for Europe towards the end of the year, with a grant from the
Receives a grant from the John D. Rockefeller III Fund, allowing
him to travel to, and work in, U.S.A. Here, he predominantly paints
expressionist canvases inspired by de Kooning.
The Bangladesh war has lateral political and cultural effects on West
Bengal. Sen is unable to work for a while on his return as he is affected
emotionally due to political and social unrest.
Having resumed work, Sen holds an exhibition at Birla Academy of
Art and Culture based on a series featuring a bicyclist’s accident.
For the centrepiece, he creates a papier mâché sculpture featuring
himself as a cyclist with the backdrop lit up with contradictory traffic
instructions. The influence of pop art is effective in communicating
the artist’s distress.
As a response to political turmoil, Sen creates a series of works with
figures clad in a dhoti with garlands around their necks. Laden with
irony and humour, the characters are meant to represent the political
bigwigs of the time.
The Indo-Soviet Friendship Association invites him to exhibit his
works in Moscow.
He begins to focus on figures and faces of men and women across all
Paints a series of twenty-four paintings based on Shri Ramakrishna’s
Serves as a visiting professor at Maryland Institute of Art, Baltimore,
and also lectures on contemporary Indian art at various centres and
institutes in U.S.A. His exposure to racial riots in America results in
his Isabelle series of paintings.
His story, 'A Tree in My Village', is published by National Institute of
Design, Ahmedabad. The text is designed in Sen’s own calligraphy
and he also illustrates the folios.
Is appointed commissioner of the Indian section of the Havana
Biennale II, Cuba.
Is invited to speak on Indian contemporary painting at Loomis Chaffee
School by Allan Lundie Wise Lecture Fund, Windsor, U.S.A.
Receives fellowship from Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. A documentary is made on him by Doordarshan, Calcutta, titled One
Day in the Life of a Celebrity.
Government of West Bengal awards him the Abanindra Puraskar for
Is awarded the West Bengal State Lalit Kala prize for achievement in
Publishes Abu Symbol, Picasso O Anyanya Tirthe. The book, a tribute
to Picasso and Brancusi, describes his visit to their studios and his
travels and life in Paris.
Publishes his autobiography, Zindabahar.
Is honoured with the Hirachand Dugar Award.
As recognition of his significant contribution to the arts, the French government confers on him the L’officier de l’orde des arts et des
lettres, which is the Order of Arts and Letters.
Receives Lalit Kala Ratna from Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.
Holds a joint show with Tyeb Mehta at Gallery One, London.
Passes away in October.