#Art + Culture

You Know Kaushik Basu, The Economist. Now Meet Kaushik Basu, The Artist

kaushik basu art
Kaushik Basu art: He has global renown for his roles as the Chief Economist at the World Bank and adviser to the Indian government. That Kaushik Basu has a creative side – and a skilled one at that – is a lesser known fact.

Twitter was introduced to it when the economist showcased his saree paintings, an art he returned to after many years he said. Netizens were pleasantly surprised by Basu’s steady hand on raw silk cloth and the subject matter he chose – bold graphics in colour of women figures in repose.

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All Twitterati could discuss was how lucky the person draping the sarees painted by Basu was. Amid the shower of compliments, his wife and prominent sociology scholar Alaka Basu came forward to reveal whom the art was for.

“It’s a birthday present for me. Delighted with it. Will wear it soon. Expect heads to turn,” she wrote in reply to a netizen asking.

Kaushik Basu Art: A Long Romance With Concealed Talents

“I have an eye for art, I spot good art but, alas, I know I’m no artist,” Basu once said in an interview with The Hindu – Business Line some years ago. Rather self-effacing of him, it would seem, going by the mastery apparent in his saree paintings. A childhood interest, he called art, covering all from doodling to basic sketching.

This “amateurish” art he speaks of has graced a variety of surfaces in a variety of mediums, including charcoal, oils and acrylics. “If in doing a painting you mess up, the secret is to mess up more and pass it off as post-modern art,” is a key piece of advice from the hidden artist.

Advice he seemingly avails to the full, when it comes to his own sketches. The 69-year-old says he is considering the inauguration of a new school of art that values “incomplete art as art.” It is an interesting proposition, best for people like himself who are “bad at drawing the nose and lips.”

The former President of the International Economic Association and current economics professor at Cornell University, Basu is a noted voice of authority in his field, drawing inspiration from even greater senior voices like Amartya Sen and David Hume. To the creative corner of his brain, painters like Sudhir Patwardhan stand tall as icons.

Basu, on social media, has spoken highly of Patwardhan’s works – ‘Home’ in particular, which according to him, captures the “dailiness of life” expertly. And this one that he considers “one of the great art works of our time.”

As for himself, Basu doesn’t shy away from experimenting with a wide range. He appears to have attempted Karl Marx in oil with as much easy precision as he did this über cool woman on cardboard. The mark of a true artist!


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