Trained as an attorney and largely self-taught as an artist, Sen shared the aspirations of the Calcutta Group, to which he belonged: to rejuvenate contemporary Indian art by taking from “Masters the world over … all that we could profitably synthesise [sic] with our requirements and traditions” (undated catalogue of about 1953). As a result, Sen developed a distinctive form of modernism rooted in Indian traditions and engaged with international precedents and contemporary movements—from ancient Egyptian sculpture to Baroque painting to Cubist art.
The scrolls displayed here came to the Mead from an American friend of the artist, Leonard Gordon, Amherst College Class of 1959, a scholar of Indian history affiliated with the City University of New York and Columbia University’s Southern Asian Institute. Gordon acquired these paintings as he did the other works of twentieth-century Indian art in his recent gift—directly from the artist. Gordon met Sen during a sojourn in India in 1972–73. The two became friends, meeting for meals and conversation, and Gordon began to bring Sen artist’s supplies from the United States, including brushes, paper, and, most memorably, a staple gun and 10,000 staples to use in preparing his canvases.