Time (73-85)

Every day, every hour, there are images that flash across my minds eye As I used to attend public meetings, and because of my hobby of doing portraits I came into contact quite early in life with people of great public stature. My success as a boy-portraitist endeared me to all and earned me easy access to the great leaders of the time. I lived close to College Street, crowded with students from Calcutta University and Presidency College, many of whom were politically and socially conscious brilliant young men and women. Later in the 1960s and 1970s I saw many a battle fought by students under different ideological banners against the government of the time. I have always felt a crying need deep within me to do something tangible for society, something for which I have the wherewithal at my command. When I was seventeen, just out of school and yet to join the Art College, I organised what I called Sabuj Bahini (Green Brigade) with all the children of my locality and beyond who had a talent for art. It was probably one of the first of its kind in Calcutta. We hosted the first childrens art fair in Calcutta and became a major institution for generating public interest in childrens art activities. Later I was one of the organisers of the art fair at the Market Square in 1968-69 and an open air cultural fair at the Maidan every Saturday in 1967. In 1975 I founded the College of Visual Arts to launch a specially designed art education course for young talents who had otherwise no scope for formal training in art. Earlier, on a brief visit to Paris, I had been greatly impressed by the liberal atmosphere in which students of all grades trained under a least-interfering art teacher at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts. I wanted to introduce the same teaching mode which would encourage free development of students talent and taste. It became an instant success and rose from strength to strength within a few years and received highly appreciative notices in the press.