My stepping stone to France. This is the entry gate to Chandernagore, the erstwhile French territory in India set up in 1673. Since I was 12, I had heard from my father, a working-class leader, about French human rights, that France was the first to abolish the monarchy, and “comrade” was taken from the French word “camarade”.

Father’s anecdote. My father also spoke of French artistic culture that attracted foreign artists.  He said a painter from Germany, Belgium, or Netherlands, on coming to France, his colour palette radically changed from dark to bright colour with French influence.

My regular escape to Chandernagore. Across the Ganges river about 15 km from my refugee camp, I discovered Chandernagore where French architecture became my visual interest. I would frequently request fishermen to take me and my bicycle to the opposite shore to spend time in the French quarter. It was my great artistic escape from 1966 to 1973.

Admiring French architecture. I visibly saw the difference between the British and French architectural heritage in India. India was totally adapted to British ways due to 200 years of colonization. But I was more attracted to the refinement of French architecture.

Urge to leave for France. I discovered France from my father’s talks, in Chandernagore, and from art books on French culture and Modern Art in Kolkata art college and American library. This propelled me to leave India in 1973 to become an artist in France.


When India was partitioned 1947 to create Pakistan, a new country for Muslims, about 20 million people of Bengal and Punjab were displaced and brutally victimized. Sen’s wealthy, literate family had huge landed property in erstwhile East Bengal, the present Bangladesh, which was carved out to be East Pakistan for Muslims. So for being Hindus Sen’s family was overnight evicted from their home. Without taking any possessions, they fled for their lives amidst people warring over religion, and so became squatted refugees in West Bengal.