He was 6 years old when his uncle used to carry him on his shoulders to the railway station near his home village ‘Ichapour’ in Bengal. He even climbed into the steam locomotive many times and played around with the antiques of now bygone era. That is where his love affair started with steam locomotives. He was always amazed by imperfection in people and in life. Perfect shiny coaches like those of the west do not attract him. He is attracted to the rusty, greasy and dusty locomotives that ultimately led him to become the artist in love with trains. He talks about the staff that did not come in uniform and had disheveled hair. But they surely had a warm smile and a big heart to accommodate a small boy in their daily work at train station. Unlike us, they were very content with their life in general, Biswas says.
When the steam locomotives were being phased out in early 90s by the Indian Government, a sudden nostalgia of losing something took over him so strongly that he started painting only locomotives. Sometimes he paints by seeing his old sketches and sometimes from his memory. All of his paintings of locomotives are acrylic on canvas and most of them are done in sepia tint which excites him as an artist.
As a young boy, Kishore who is now in his 40s used to share meals with other railway staff under the railway wagons. “We used to get lunch boxes from our homes and each one of us was very excited to share our meal with the other”, says Kishore.
“I remember I used to share meals with railway staff on the railway line under the wagons. And those are some of my most beautiful memories” ~ Kishore Pratim Biswas
Even though his parents thought being a painter was not a lucrative career, he graduated in Fine Arts from Government College of Art & Craft, Kolkata, 1996. Kishore spent struggling years in his hometown and then moved to Mumbai in 2009. His wife Bina Biswas is also a renowned artist and from the same institute.
“For years, I woke up at midnight and started painting impromptu. I still find that very gratifying.” ~ Kishore
Kishore’s more than 25-year journey in modern contemporary art movement has strengthened his unconventional thought process. He wants his paintings to be a source of nostalgia for older generation and that of knowledge for younger generation who gets to see these locomotives only as objects in museums. He wants to add that element of emotion for the younger generation.
Biswas says, “Creating painting keeps me emotional. I get nostalgic with my old memories of contemporary arts, movies, musics, trends, culture and communities. My paintings are mostly about a old feeling, a old ambiance, that I want to convey. I find that these themes from the 70’s and 80’s are still up-to-date.”
Kishore organized his solo exhibition in Kolkata in 1996. In 1997, he displayed his work of art at several group shows around the country. Even though Kishore has a long way to go, his paintings are slowly making their way into the homes of collectors of modern Indian art in US and Europe. The NRI community settled in the west is often filled with nostalgia of their childhood days in India and they show special interest in his paintings of steam locomotives.
Do you know of any such unique stories from bygone era of Indian Railways?
About the author:
Gaurav Bhatnagar is a Software Engineer turned professional Travel Writer, Photographer, and Public Speaker on Responsible Travel @ The Spunky Traveler. Published in National Geographic Traveller, The Hindu, Travel Secrets and Huffington Post. Director at The Folk Tales, a company specializing in Responsible Rural Travel in India