Lalu Prasad Shaw has a style of his own; Simple, Refined, bold strokes, the use of a vibrant colour palette and his affection for using tempera as a medium. With this he captures the middle-class Bengali babu’s and bibi’s expressions, mannerisms and vanity with great economy of line and colour. All of this imparts a warm and familiar feel to his Art. His affection for working with tempera as a medium is his USP.
For young Lalu Prasad Shaw, born in 1937 at Siuri, Birbhum in Bengal, art was in the neighbourhood. He was fascinated by Malakars, the traditional garland makers, who were also expert Sholapith craftsmen, one of the primordial handicrafts of Bengal. He would keenly watch them work on sculpted idols of Durga and puja adornments and, soon began to explore colours and make paintings on his own.
Shaw was deeply influenced by his school art teacher, Pinakinath Bhattacharya’s paintings. He later graduated in Fine Arts from the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Kolkata. Shaw taught art for 18 years in various schools, and then taught graphics at his alma mater before eventually moving to Kala Bhavan at Shantiniketan. During his art studies, Shaw began to move away from technicalities and engaged in a search for an identity of his own. Simple, Refined, bold brush strokes, the use of a vibrant colour palette and his affection for using tempera as a medium became his hallmark.
Most of his works, executed in gouache or tempera, displays inspiration from the pre-independence Company School of art, the traditional Kalighat Pat, and the Ajanta cave paintings. Abstraction and figuration feature equally in his art and there is a thread of faithfulness to the past traditions in Indian colonial art. Shaw began to explore printmaking at 32 and achieved much acclaim as a master printmaker in Indian contemporary art. He also dabbled in lithography and etching – experimenting with form, space, harmony, and balance.
His work has been featured in prestigious shows including the second British Biennale in London, 1970, two Norwegian Print Biennales in 1974 and 1978, the seventh Paris Biennale in 1971 and the second Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh in 1984. His work is also part of the permanent collection at the National Gallery of modern Art (NGMA) and other national and international museums around the world including the Birla Academy in Calcutta and the Art Forum in Singapore.
With art as investment growing in vogue, Shaw’s paintings, as well as other art works are in great demand with connoisseurs around the world. In his late 70’s, when many people lead retired lives, Lalu Prasad Shaw has ventured into the art of sculpture. He is now presenting a collection of life-sized bronze figurines titled “Babu and Bibi”. He takes inspiration from people he sees in daily life. He says that he wanted to see what his two-dimensional paintings looks like in three-dimension. “Once you have the inspiration for the artwork, the medium doesn’t matter much”, he says.
His notable achievements include
The West Bengal Lalit Kala Academy’s Award for Graphic Art in 1959
The National Award in Graphic Art in 1971
The Birla Academy Award for Graphic Art in 1976
The Award for Graphic Art and Drawing in 1978
The All India Graphic and Drawing Exhibition in 1981, Chandigarh.