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Chittrovanu Mazumdar

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1956, Paris, France
Lives and works in Kolkata, India

Chittrovanu's works are sourced and derived from his very own multi-cultural origins. He is a versatile artist working with a variety of conventional and unconventional mixed media, often dealing with texts. His canvases are large and grand, always left untitled. Critics often comment on the sensuality and tactility of his works.



Printing and Printmaking, Ecole Des Beaux Arts, Paris


Government College of Art, Calcutta

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UNDERSTANDING Chittrovanu Mazumdar

Chittrovanu's rich cultural background influenced his work

Chittrovanu's upbringing has had a deep impact on the nature of his work. Growing up with a Bengali father and a French mother, he drew inspiration and sustenance from both cultures. Formally schooled in art only later in life, one can argue his education began much earlier at home within his multi-cultural, intellectually-inclined family.

While Chittrovanu depicts everyday lives and objects in his works, it is not as though they are symbols bound by any one specific cultural or social context. Perhaps born with a creative instinct, this was nurtured with the proximity of Nirode Mazumdar, one of India's foremost avant-garde modern artists, who is his father. Chittrovanu also shares some figurative representations with Nirode, who often painted India goddesses such as Kali. However, he puts them to a completely different use with a significantly different palette.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, Untitled (Four Panels), 2005, oil on canvas, 108 x 168”

No classification is the best classification

The artist prefers to leave his work open to multiple interpretations and free from formal categorisation. As Chittrovanu himself puts it, “I don’t have a particular word to qualify my works. There are paintings, sculptures, sound and light installations. Each piece tends to cross over to a new field, forcing the viewer to shift his/her position constantly. I think that makes the works more interesting than being categorized in one genre."

Chittrovanu has proven himself to be a master in using various media; often experimenting with old and new technology alike. He uses videos, musical, non-musical sounds, photographs, texts, and conventional paints along with unconventional media and objects such as electronic spare parts, tar, gold etc. He wants the viewers to read and interpret the work themselves without imposing his own narrative onto them. This is also why he does not title any of his works.

Chittrovanu plays with meaning in his work

There is no one theme in Chittrovanu's work. There is interplay between real, imagined, figurative, and the abstract. Gayatri Spivak, famous literary theorist, calls it 'exactly NOT conceptual art'. There is no one direction that the works takes and no pretence of unity in meaning. They are just as fragmented as their appearance. The human presence is, however, symbolic of the human, existential concerns that seem to lie underneath. Some have called it his 'quest for an authentic voice in the cultural hybridity' and there are indeed elements of quest for identity, voice, meaning in the everyday. Also, visibly, a constant clash of opposites such as the light and tar in some of his works hint at dilemmas. The works ultimately express a kind of restlessness prevalent in the human condition.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, Untitled (Pink and Yellow), oil on canvas, 52 x 62”

The determining factors behind Chittrovanu's eclecticism are varied

Chiittrovanu's work is eclectic not only because it is multicultural. It is so also because his sources are varied and diverse. There are texts from the three languages he reads- English, Bengali, and French, both academic and literary. There is everyday life and reality with its videos, sounds, photography, and other representations. Often a series of visuals combining the real and imaginary worlds create an abstract that represents something entirely new and unique, something which is a distinct third. The works hint at as many things as they draw from. As the artist himself prefers, there is no one meaning, no one reading of his work and it is left entirely to the viewer, each time one sees his works, to decipher it fresh for himself.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, Untitled (Abstract 3), 2003, acrylic on paper, 28 x 22"

Variety in material and form

Chittrovanu's works are mostly bold, large, grand, and often very unconventional in terms of the material they use and in form. The palette is rich and bold as well with spontaneous brush strokes in colours such as black, red, bright pink, yellow, and gold. Texts and images are often a part of his work but in an abstract, fragmented manner. One often finds paint dabbled to resemble human form, rare figurative forms, and sometimes parts of the human anatomy- just one hand, a sudden eye, a pair of half open lips in the richness of the bold back ground colour etc. It is surprising and conspicuous at the same time. He is often noted for the 'sensuousness' and 'tactility' of his works. The large canvases full of tar make you feel part of the substance itself.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, Untitled (Female Face), 2005, oil on canvas, 60 x 72”

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, Untitled, 2013, photo collage, 3 x 2 ft.