Born in Calcutta, India, Bivas Chaudhuri is an award-winning international artist whose journey to Southern Brooklyn’s waters resonates in his art.
Chaudhuri received his MFA in Painting and Print Making from Brooklyn College, studied at SVA, The Scottish Church College, The Government College of Art and Craft and the University of Calcutta. Though taught by wonderful teachers abroad, Chaudhuri notes that he had to “learn all over” once in America. No problem: he seems to be an eternal learner, serving as an art instructor and art restorer as he pursues his craft.
“One of my goals has been to blend some of the concepts and techniques of Western Painting into Indian Painting and vice-versa,” says the accomplished artist.
When you look at some of the geometric patterns that compose his work, you may not see the ties to either culture. Some of it is so mind-bending that you forget to even consider the background of the artist. “India is very crowded, so high energy. My current work is involved in space which is FULL of energy.”
That is definitely reflected in his work — it is very busy and has much for the eye – and mind — to perceive. It is “repetitive” and a “meditative process to energize with the highly structured flowing imagery. It is a close resemblance of your deep state of mind.”
Looking at a Bivas Chaudhuri painting, you become lost in the maze of his meditation brought to the canvas. We can glean only so much with an untrained eye, “Reading will help others understand the painting.” After a brief conversation with him, it all adds up. We are a complex maze, a repetitive cycle of arguments and affections, and we, ultimately, are all the same. Even if we are all different.
“People and animals moved from one place to another in search of a better place to live. We need the right ingredients, heat, liquid, water, which allow life to sustain and flourish as Earth gets crowded and polluted. Our search continues to other planets,” says Chaudhuri. Focusing on this theme throughout his artwork and within the conversation, it’s easy to see where his inspiration comes from.
Many of Chaudhuri’s paintings represent the immigrant experience and deal with the uprooting of multiple cultures. “It takes a long time to secure roots in new soil,” says Chaudhuri, indicating the struggle of being different in a country supposedly grounded in tolerance. However, despite the many prejudices one might have to deal with, Chaudhuri speaks very highly of Sheepshead Bay, calling it a “wonderful place” with a great deal of “cultural diversity.” People come from all over the world and between Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island, there is a “good reason to be here.” Calling its residents “warmhearted,” Chaudhuri also adds that “art and culture stop the ignorance.”
Despite his Indian heritage, Chaudhuri considers himself American, and with good reason. Despite his Indian heritage, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts invited him to represent America – not India – in Germany for an artist’s exchange program. Other participants would say, “You don’t look American,” a tickled Bivas told us. Apart from making practice of confusing Germans, he has continued to practice and explore different art mediums over the years.
Loving the amount of activity in Sheepshead Bay, he only laments that there is not more of an art community. “There is a great need for galleries,” says Chaudhuri. “We are not isolated,” he says of artists, “artists always try to grab. We are all connected to the rest of the art world, and we’re very concerned.” With such a beautiful backdrop and “Gateway National Recreation Area right in your backyard,” the quiet and natural reserves that we take for granted make it a shame that more attention isn’t given to our end of Brooklyn.
“Artists love to live here [Brooklyn],” he says, though he feels that the area is largely misrepresented. Sheepshead Bay often gets clumped into the same category of Coney Island, which is primarily associated with amusement. Perhaps a gallery or two would help the bay get on the map and help end the confusion. With all the condo development and gourmet attractions popping up, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. The throngs of incoming hipsters destined to one day take over are going to need something to discuss over lattes.
Concerned with the survival of our generation’s thoughts and ideas, he hopes to capture that sentiment within his art. Future generations will “try to understand our world through art,” and will only have whatever we leave behind to explain in our absence. Art, literature and technology, Chaudhuri notes, represent “the total achievement of our time.”
Chaudhuri continues to work diligently on environmentally friendly projects. His own work is a “never ending process” and he wishes he could “continue until [he] dies.” If there’s anything this peaceful, brilliant craftsman does get riled up about, it’s time. “One lifetime is not enough to follow just one element of design.” There’s a lack of time to investigate every area one might wish to explore, and Chaudhuri likened the situation to the C.I.A. trying to just focus on one clue.
Chaudhuri’s one hope is that more art comes to Brooklyn. It’s already started – Williamsburg and Park Slope are great examples of little communities that are well-equipped to serve the artist’s community. The continued efforts there are smaller steps to getting “Brooklyn to headline,” and extending its reach to Sheepshead Bay will only be a matter of time.
Correction: The original version of this article misspelled Bivas Chaudhuri’s name as Chaudhari. It is now corrected. Our apologies for any confusion.