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Ashutosh Deb: Life and times

Asudev wouldn’t have taken up the challenge to traverse his journey into the realms of visual art unless he had the whole hearted support of his wife, Bela who had her schooling at Kala Bhavana Santiniketan. It was because of her efforts that Asudev could create such huge work that we are able to see even today.

Ashutosh Deb "nom de plume "as ‘Asudev’ is a pioneer Visual Artist of Assam. Asudev was born on 13 December 1917, in a small town of lower Assam, Dhubri, to Kadambini and Umesh Chandra Deb.

Umesh Chandra Deb worked as a Revenue Shrestadar under the British Government in the undivided Assam, was also a scholar and researcher on Srimanta Sankardeva, the 15th–16th century Assamese saint-scholar, poet, playwright, social-religious reformer of Assam. He had published his research work in Bangla on Srimanta Sankardeva, in 1327 (Bengali Calendar) i.e.1920. Umesh Chandra Deb, permanently settled and resided at Newfield (West) Mohd. Shah Road, Guwahati where the joint family lived till the early 2004.

Asudev completed his schooling at the Cotton Collegiate School, Guwahati, and his interest in the textile design, took him across the undivided India, in Textile Mills in Ahmedabad, Surat, Calcutta and Khulna. His fascination towards textile designs, took him through to the Weavers Service Centre in Dimapur, Nagaland where he served a five year contract from 1973.

A self-taught painter, his involvement with the intricacies of weaving and creating minute textile designs on the graph papers, might have played an intense surge of his experimentations with dots, which most of his admirers now often call ‘pointillism’. Asudev’s experiments with dots or ‘pointillism’, dates way back to 1930’s. With his brilliant water colour tempera, which even today are as vibrant as when first created. Asudev did not stick to the confines of dots and dabs but often experimented with strokes and washes. Often we see his work in the whole of a period, we come across not only that he worked on some of his canvasses with his dots but simultaneously also working with strokes and wash techniques, without confining himself to only the dots. Asudev’s paintings are images made up of tiny little dots we can relate as pixels and his paintings have an application of different levels of dots or pixels. None of his dots or strokes have any repetition in either size or form. The subtle details are clearly visible in his paintings. Yes, as he very often remarked “…all that you see around in life is a cluster of tiny dots…”

Asudev’s career as an artist could be split-up into four major time periods. The formative years: 1930-1940 followed by the period 1940 to 1960, 1960 to 1970 (The peak of his creativity) and 1970 to 1983. Asudev accomplished his first solo show in Guwahati in April 1952 and also in Shillong (then undivided Assam) in December 1958 a record for organising the first ever One Man Show held in both the cities: Asudev had 9 solo shows and participated in 13 Group shows.

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