Our message is simple. We want all Indians bring art into their lives, in whichever way possible. We’d like to appeal to every Indian to buy at least one painting in his/her lifetime. That itself can change the art scene here. It will help the artists of our country become self-reliant,” says Sanjay Mehta, a pop and digital artist from Delhi, who is among the group of artists displaying their work at Indraprastha Art Fest, at Chitrakala Parishath, this week.
Featuring diverse art forms, the art fest brings together four very unique artists under one banner - Sanjay Mehta, Sajal K Mitra, who dabbles in watercolors; Sisir Kumar Datta who works with tempera and oil paintings; and finally Sonali Maitra Paul, who is a sculptor.
the child in you
Sanjay Mehta’s work displayed through two parallel collections of ten paintings titled the ‘Nine Pisces’ series and ‘Cave Paintings 2013’, bring forth a child-like exuberance and celebrate the evergreen soul. Using mixed media, whether it’s crayons, markers or glitter, Mehta employs a free flowing format to showcase real life situations that are juxtaposed with dream-like imagery.
“In the Nice Pisces series I have visualised nine fish that have been given the boon to travel the world and live human experiences. So you’ll find them enjoying a Bigg Boss episode or travelling to outer space or even celebrating Independence Day. It’s all been done from a child’s perspective because in essence we’re all children pretending to be adults,” says Mehta. The cave series visualises the current world through the eyes of cave men. So the style, colour palette and form reflect the cave paintings from Mohenjo-daro, Africa.
Of ‘trial and error’
Sajal K Mitra’s watercolor landscapes evoke a feeling of isolation that one can ironically, only feel on a busy street, a crowded market or at a popular tourist location. Mitra predominantly works with a colour palette that incorporates blues, silvers and whites with subtle strokes of blacks, reds and sharp yellows. Whether it’s the bright taxis of Kolkata or the Old Fort in Delhi, Mitra’s paintings leave a haunting feeling of ennui behind. Every painting is an exercise in existentialism. “Working with watercolors is not easy. It takes years of practice and patience. One has to know how to play with wet paper and wet colors. You only have so much time before the paper dries up, to finish your painting. In more cases than less, the painting gets spoilt,” says Mitra. He uses imported handmade paper to execute his paintings, which he feels are better than the papers available in India.
vagabonds & poets
Sonali Maitra Paul, a painter since she was a child, started sculpting while she was in college. She was further influenced by her husband, Mriganka Paul, who is a ninth generation sculptor and whose family was brought from the erstwhile East Bengal to West Bengal by Raja Krishna Chandra to form a colony of sculptors. Sonali’s sculptures depict the everyday life of those in the lower rungs of society.
While one sculpture depicts a dabba-wallah furiously cycling to his next destination, another shows a tired man pulling a rickshaw while his passenger relaxes in the seat with a huge Ganesha statue. One of the most stylised sculptures is the one titled ‘Vagabond’ where a young man is shown resting against a street lamp - for him, there’s no place to be and nothing to do. There’s a sense of moving poetry to these still characters.
Her myriad forms
An alumnus of Government College of Arts and Crafts, Sisir Kumar Datta specialises in water colours, tempera as well as oil paintings. The two series on display at the exhibition titled ‘Lady with Cactus’ and ‘Lady with Lotus’ are mostly tempera on paper. Datta is an observer of human life and emotions. In the dual series that was up on display, one could see a dissonance in his perception of the female form. In one, she’s docile, beautiful and homely; in another, she’s powerful, filled with wrath and sensual. For instance, in the painting titled ‘Queen’, we see the woman wearing a bloody crown, sitting on a thorny throne, in crimson clothes. Her eyes tell you you’re not safe around her. But in the painting titled ‘Blue Pillar’, we see another woman, peeking from behind a pillar, obviously married, ornaments adorning her and a closed door very prominent behind her. These are contrasting visuals and perhaps reflect the painter’s own struggle at understanding a woman’s psyche.
Indraprastha Art Fest is on at Chitrakala Parishath. Today is the last day.