Franco-Indian bi-cultural artist
Sen Shombit has lived and worked as a painter and designer in France from 1973 to 2003 (30 years).
Early life in India: Born in India 1954, Sen lived poverty stricken in a slum-like refugee camp outside Kolkata with no electricity, no sanitation, no potable water. The poor-rich divide was highly pronounced. In this uncertain life he dreamt of becoming an artist, which in his environment was considered a joke. Close to his refugee camp, at age 12, he suddenly discovered Chandannagore, the erstwhile territory of France. That gave an intense feeling for France. Against all odds he persisted with sharp focus on art, and drove himself to get admitted to Government College of Arts and Crafts in Kolkata (first Western art college in India since 1860).
Sweating for French inspiration: Pursuing his dream to be among French artists, before completing his study, he daringly catapulted himself to Paris at age 19 with only $8 and some of his artwork. Uncertainty, poverty, big bang culture shock hit him in France. No money, no knowledge of French culture or language, knew no one in France, no job, no immigration paper. His only belief was that his art would connect him to French society. The first job he found was being a sweeper in Atelier Gourdon, a lithographic printshop in Cachan outside Paris. He met world famous painters here while serving them as a helper as they made lithographs. Sen hungrily learnt diverse imaginative metaphors and art techniques from renowned artists Erte, Leonor Fini, Alain Bonnefoit, Jean Carzou, Yves Brayer among others who mentored him. They sometimes even bought his paintings to encourage him. Sen was accepted to study in two prestigious Paris institutions, École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (1974-76) and Academie Julian Penninghen (1975-77). His education remained incomplete as he had to pursue applied art as a designer for livelihood earning. In parallel, he continued to paint and exhibit his works. He has since integrated seamlessly into French society, culturally, socially and in the domain of art, and became a French national in 1984.
Influence: Intensely searching for an ideology of his own to transcend Post Modern Art, Sen had immersed himself totally into Western European art movements since 1870, from Impressionism to Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Abstract to Minimalism, Neo-Expressionism and beyond. These art movements influenced and structured his imagination in a unique way. He understood it is important for a painter to have an ideological anchor for his new artistic vision.
Own vision of art: He started to create a new vision of art from 1994; he called it Gesturism Art. Grappling with contradictory cultures, he has a way of painting without limits to show that which is not seen, but which is nevertheless essential. His painting practice is akin to inherently spontaneous writing that freely flows from imagination, just as Gesturism Art is his personal pictorial narrative.
It is a creative celebration of the limitless movements of all living beings, from birth to death.
Three visual cues are apparent in
- Gesturing motion
- Irreverent colours
His application of irreverent colours: Coming back to India in 2003, Sen was starting to feel impinged by the Cartesian discipline and order of Western art in terms of control of colour, form and shape. His own art is structured with Cartesian discipline that he imbibed in France, yet India’s wanton, free flowing, irreverent usage of colour in social life attracted him. He was not familiar with this so he started researching on how he could be completely impromptu with “uncontrolled colour bath” in his Western style paintings. This is the way he started his usage of irreverent colours.
His paintings: Sen’s interaction with the canvas is guided by the spirit of the painting where the lines, curves, volumes, colours intermingle and complement one another, creating shapes and figures for the viewer to discover and intuitively grasp. His paintings are like brain-teasers. They require viewers to untangle the riddle and share the artist’s vision so as to perceive what is hidden and awaiting discovery.
Désordre harmony influenced by India’s heterogeneity: Arrival and merging of migrants in India since ancient times from Greece, Africa, Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Europe, the Moghuls from 1525 and British colonizers from 1757 to 1947 has created a “désordre” of extreme diversity while being inclusive. Sen’s désordre harmony paintings have emerged from here. He gives viewers and collectors the freedom to compose their own personal installation revealing figures or symbols with limitless composition possibilities. Sen’s désordre harmony with different pieces of paintings in a magnetic frame that can be displaced, turned around and inter-changed, invites his viewers and collectors to become artists too. - June 2018
Sen in his atelier in Bangalore, India 2017
Sen in his atelier in Avenue Jean Moulin, Paris 1991
Sen in his atelier in Avenue Jean Moulin, Paris 1993