70’s Indian Steam Locomotive Paintings

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Kishore Pratim Biswas, Indian Contemporary Artist

Whether it’s about showcasing early 70’s Indian railways or celebrating the nostalgia of Indian steam locomotives… It’s an idiosyncratic collection of a series of paintings on steam locomotives by Kishore Pratim Biswas, who is a most popular contemporary Indian artist. Each painting are representing the daily life of the Indian steam locomotive workshop in the 70s.

Kishore Pratim Biswas was born in 1971 in Kolkata city of joy. His paintings have been displayed in several solo and group exhibitions in India and abroad. The artist skillfully combines several versatile techniques. He experiments with different painting styles to continuously improve his skills.

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Kishore said “Indian Steam Locomotives had an unusual character which is reflected in my paintings. The colors of the engine were mostly black and gray. The body looks too muddy, dusty, and unclean which made the surface a unique look. I never find such an amazing character ever in the world. I liked the ineffable ambiance of white steam and black engine which is a dramatic visual experience for me. I was crazy, love to do live painting on watercolor, oil, pen, and ink sketch of that.

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For me, it’s a fantasy of the Indian steam locomotives, which doesn’t alive now. In the morning usually I went to the locomotive workshop for the sketch. In the early 90s, the day was very sad to me, I saw the engines were disassembled and sent to scrap. Since the steam locomotives were obsolete in India. It was a shocking experience for me ever before. I was crying, I couldn’t finish the series of the painting on Indian Steam Locomotives…”

Steam locomotive workshop paintings

Every painting has a unique group of locomotive workers which reflects that Kishore had a close observation of people of Indian Railways of the ’70s. Kishore said “I captured the movement of people like; firemen, signalmen, technical men, drivers, and other workers in the locomotives workshops. My paintings have always a deep expression of the characters, the faces are beard and too black with a red pagri which looks very unusual.

Sometimes, I rode in the engine with the driver… It was a remarkable experience. I saw the way of their working style from a close view. The engine was always very hot and they worked for a long time in there… still they had a smiley face”

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It’s a glimpse into the lives of the fantasy of 70’s Indian railways.

“I’m happy because when I look at the canvas, I don’t compare that to others. Not anymore.
I don’t compare the way I look, the way I feel, or the work that I do. I don’t compare my level of happiness. I don’t compare my achievements.
Because I spent years doing that… Years, comparing myself to everyone else…
Nothing makes you feel more miserable than measuring yourself up to someone else and finding yourself lacking.”… Kishore