BHASKAR CHITRAKAR lives in Kalighat and actively practices the patachitra art form in its traditional medium of natural ground colours on paper. When introduced to Frida Kahlo, he resonated with her love of colour, animals and flowers, the symbolism in her works, her respect for her ancestry, her clothes, her gaze. And the “Kali-Kahlo” series was born.
Bhaskar has used powder pigments on paper for his self-portraits of Frida in Kalighat. Flowing Mexican clothes are replaced by Indian ethnic wear, marigolds take the place of exotic flowers, the jewellery is local as is the parrot on her shoulder. What remains unchanged is the essence of the woman, her steadfast gaze, her untrimmed unibrow, her mask-like face appropriating her viewer.
Frida Kahlo's self-portraits were always painful articulations of her life. Here, Bhaskar has given his version a quirky contemporary touch by showing her as a 'selfie-taking Bengali woman'. She is both warrior and martyr and Bhaskar respects her courage as a strong woman and a visionary artist.