Born: 1937

Lalu Prasad Shaw - Paintings


Cutting a niche for himself over the years in the Indian modern art scenario with his distinctly individual and seminal contribution, Lalu Prasad Shaw was born in a middle-class Bengali family in Suri exactly two years before the Second World War broke out. In his childhood days, he used to often visit ‘poto para’ a neighborhood of local artisans in their vicinity and watch them work, being drawn not to the idols they paint but more to the ‘pats’ and chaali-s’ they used to paint to adorn the backdrop of their idols. In Lalu’s words, “I am not an artist but a painter. I like to paint directly; so initially I look for the structure of a painting, then put up colors and in the last stage, I give the finishing touch."

Lalu belongs to the generation of Indian artists which emerged in the sixties in the post-war socio-cultural and political background and which had firm moorings in the native soil. And like all the other young artists, he too was keen on hitting upon a painting style of his own, something which for him was not easy to accomplish and demands a long and dedicated engagement. He started his career with oil painting and mainly concentrated on still life along with experimentation with some organic forms.

He spent a less colorful life than that of a city-bred boy and was a little different from the lot. He could graphically replicate his immediate visual experience and thus could sensitively respond to the nuances of the goings on around him. In 1959, Lalu had his institutional training in art at the Government College of Art, Calcutta where students were taught what the curricula demanded - anatomy, perspectives, norms of chiaroscuro, techniques of British watercolour, academic portraiture in oil and so on. He graduated in 1959 but somehow, the completion of the course left him disillusioned and that is the reason why he tried to express himself beyond the limits of the institutional training. Lalu became a member of the Society of Contemporary Artists in 1967. For a few years, he devoted himself to graphic works in abstract form where he could incorporate the forms of his earlier sketches and drawings. Thereafter, he worked for more than five to six years with lithograph prints at the Graphic Department of Kalabhavana, Santiniketan. This gave him, to some extent, a feeling of satisfaction. Yet again another change was imminent when one day he saw Sukhomoyda showing ‘Lucknow Birds’ to students in the Kalabhavana library. He reflected upon it and thought it could be a new beginning for him. Even the makeshift photo-stalls visiting Santiniketan attracted him with people in various postures posing for a shoot which he later included in his paintings. This inclusion of figurative composition led him to the medium of tempera, his preferred medium to work with at present. In Lalu’s early works of the mid-50s, especially pastels, images comprised figures and forms taken from the visual world. Each frame displays his passion for image-making.

He has exhibited extensively in India and abroad since 1956, and some of his most recent solo shows include ‘Looking in’ at Galerie 88, Kolkata, in 2011-12; ‘Graceful Silence’ and ‘Sepia Notes’ at Art Musings, Mumbai, in 2011 and 2007; ‘The Myriad Minded Artist’ at Gallery Sanskriti, Kolkata, in 2008; and ‘Painting’ at the Centre for International Modern Art (CIMA), Kolkata, in 1995. His work has also been featured in several group shows, and he has participated in art festivals and fairs all over the world since 1956. The artist lives and works in Kolkata.

Lalu Shaw - Artist

Text Reference:
An excerpt from the book The Myriad Minded Artist - Lalu Prasad Shaw Paintings and Drawings written published by Gallery Sanskriti Lalu Prasad Shaw “Looking In", Galerie 88, Kolkata, 2011


  • West Bengal State Lalit Kala Academy Award, 1959
  • National Award in Graphic Art, India, 1971
  • Birla Academy Award, Kolkata, 1975-1978
  • Award for Graphic Art and Drawing, 1978
  • All India Graphic and Drawing Exhibition, Chandigarh, 1981


  • Lalu Prasad Shaw “Graceful Silence" Tempera on Paper
  • Lalu Prashad Shaw “Looking In"
  • Lalu Prasad Shaw “Graphics"
  • The Myriad Minded Artist - Lalu Prasad Shaw Paintings and Drawings

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