Painters, Poets, Performers: The Patuas of Bengal

By Ritu Sethi
India Foundation for the Arts
236 pp., Rs. 500, US$ 40
This book is supported ​by Infosys Foundation.

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The visually rich and informative book on the history and evolution of Patachitra in Bengal provides an overview of this narrative tradition of pictorial storytelling and its multi-talented, polymath makers.

What sets the book apart from others in the field is its examination of a landscape that has stretched over time and space, connecting the traditional to the changing language of contemporary practice. Where many similar traditions have quietly vanished or are endangered, the ways in which the Patuas have mediated with modernity adds to the critical debate on the positioning of these traditional arts within the context of the contemporary art scene. In this book, the need to develop a canon for the traditional-modern, situating it within its context, is viewed from multiple points. The insights on this increasingly complex theatre of operation are a must read for all those interested in the arts of visual and performative cultures, and its future in this digital age.

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