An interview with Arun Kumas Das on Prabhakar Barwe

The late Arun Kumar Das who was also our consignor reminisces about his rendezvous with dear friend and artist Prabhakar Barwe. He fondly recalls his first meeting with the artist during the '70s and their prolonged conversations about life and paintings. Read on to know more. 

1. Where/ when were you first introduced to the artist?

Mr. Das: I first came across Prabhakar Barwe during the mid-1970s amidst the quaint lanes of Mumbai's Gamdevi.

2. How did you meet him?

Mr. Das: I do not remember how I met Prabhakar Barwe, but it was a remarkably close friendship. I was staying in Gamdevi for almost two decades before I crossed paths with Barwe. I recall the name of that lane as Bhaskar Bhau. I had leased him a room in my own home and would often watch him paint. 

At that time, I just knew him as the man who would lock himself in his room and paint for hours after work with no rest.

3. Where did he work?

Mr. Das: He worked at the Weavers' Service Centre. It was actually right across the road, quite nearby. It was between Charni and Grant Road. My wife Veera was a student at the Centre. She would do block printing on the fabric...she was there for around 4 to 5 years

4. Can you elaborate on your friendship with Prabhakar Barwe?

Mr. Das: Barwe and I were close friends. He would always tell me where he went in the evenings.

And....he was like Van Gogh, or it seemed like he wanted to be like him.

 He had an incredibly sad life; he went through a bad stage of health problems. After retirement, he started living in a government-owned place. He was well to do later too. But his paintings were sold like anything. He would consult me, and one fine day he invited me for dinner. I think we went to Dadar or Sion. 

By that time, he had stopped drinking but the drinking part I learned from him! We never fought; I have no memory of that. But I remember that he used to go in the evening to Bhaskar Bhau Lane, where I had my pad, and he had his studio. And he and I would go opposite Wilson College, sit on a chair, and share stories about life and paintings. Then in the hospital, his office people came to donate blood. I was his close friend. I went every day to visit him at Sion Hospital. After it was shut, he was shifted to a nursing home nearby. There he would constantly wail in pain, after his death we took him to Sion Hospital and completed the formalities. I was close to him… that is it, more or less.

Any questions?