French painter evokes Ray nostalgia with exhibition

March 6th, 2008 - 2:20 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, March 6 (IANS) Two decades after film maestro and writer Satyajit Ray’s novel “Fatikchand” was translated into French, the 17 illustrations of the book by Paris-based painter Maite Delteil are now on display in an art gallery here, evoking nostalgia for generations of Ray lovers. Maite Delteil, who is wife of famous Paris-based Bengali painter Shakti Burman, had done all the sketches for “Fatik et Le Jongleur de Kalkutta”, the French version of Ray’s “Fatikchand”, the story of a kidnapped school boy from an affluent family who ends up living with a juggler after losing his memory. The maestro’s son Sandip Ray later made a film based on the book.

“All these sketches were preserved in my archives and this is the first time it’s been displayed in any exhibition,” Delteil told IANS as her works along with the paintings of her daughter, Maya Burman, opened here at Gallery Sanskriti.

The exhibition of Delteil and Burman titled “Smile of the Hearth” will be on till Mar 19.

“I decided to showcase these sketches in Kolkata, firstly because it’s Ray’s birthplace. That apart, I personally have a great bonding with this city and its cultural traditions,” Delteil said.

France Bhattacharya translated the book into French in 1981.

Strolling down memory lane, Delteil said: “I remember the expression on Ray’s face when I first gave him the translated version of his book `Fatikchand’. It was in 1982. He was so happy and he appreciated my works.”

She said the publisher who was supposed to come finally could not turn up because of his ailing health. “Thus, I had to give the book to Ray personally,” she recalled.

“Meeting Ray at his residence one morning was a wonderful experience. I can recall that my illustrations in `Fatikchand’ reminded him about pointillism and he wondered over and over again,” she said.

Pointillism is a style of painting in which small distinct points of primary colours create the impression of a wide selection of secondary and intermediate colours. Art critics coined the term in the late 1880s.

The collection of Delteil’s pencil sketches comprises 16 black and white and one colour picture, which is used as the cover for the translation.

Asked how it was possible for a French lady to put typical Bengali elements in her sketches, Delteil said that her first visit to Kolkata in 1964 helped her in this regard.

“During my first visit to India I had spent almost nine months. I had even stayed in Assam for quite a few days.

“I took a number of snaps, which gave me an idea and the spirit of the local people living in the country. The photos helped me to put the typical Bengali flavour in the drawings,” she said.

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