Born into the Patua community of scroll painters and storytellers, Kalam Patua (India b.1962) is a self-taught contemporary exponent of Kalighat painting, which draws on conventions from West Bengal scrolls and Indian miniature painting. A postmaster in a rural post office in West Bengal, he is one of the few artists painting in this style today.

Patua has worked in the Indian postal system for most of his adult life, mainly in remote West Bengal branches, only pursuing his passion for painting at night. He was once transferred to a branch far from home, leaving him no opportunity to paint. However, after the chief postal officer read a magazine article on Patua’s work, he was transferred back to his former office.

Here, Patua captures the excitement and poetry of the post office as it exists in his imagination, with love blossoming amid the sorting and stamping of letters.

Patua’s unique watercolours contain elements of autobiography and myth, and reflect on social issues and current news events. Topics include the changing nature of Indian society; dowry deaths and violence against women. He also paints light, humorous works, including a series about working in the postal system.

Exhibited in 'The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT8) | 21 Nov 2015 – 10 Apr 2016


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