Memory keeper - The New Indian Express

Memory keeper

Published: 24th July 2013 12:05 PM

Last Updated: 24th July 2013 12:05 PM

Memories can get hazy with time but for an artist, they become the source of unimaginable creativity. Kolkata-based artist Samindranath Majumdar plays with the concept of memory and space in his latest show titled Marks And Markers — at New Delhi’s Gallerie Ganesha — which will begin on August 16.

Born in 1966, Majumdar received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Visual Arts from Rabindra Bharti University, Kolkata, after completing an undergraduate degree in science at Kolkata University.

For Majumdar, memory unfolds in a series of unstable visuals. Born in a Kolkata suburb, he grew up among greenery which was slowly being replaced by the growing space of a crowded metropolis. He recalls being enamoured by the various jute mills situated on his way to school. Observing the imposing and, sometimes, crumbling buildings on a daily basis left its mark on his memory, to surface many years later in his canvases. Then there was the Ganges with its wide, open ghats, the calm waters and an unending horizon which also left an impression on the young child.

His distinct inclination for working in layers — layers of pigment and layers of experience — can perhaps be read as an attempt to make sense of the variant ways in which the cues of memory mark and unmark the evolving self, resulting in both erasure and overwriting. Memory encapsulates time, gives it specificity and therefore, a shape, thus initiating the artist’s journey of reinterpretation. The interesting play between what appears to be a flat surface and almost an ‘invisible’ deep space is Majumdar’s signature style.

In his paintings, a silvery dreaminess pervades the scene. His paintings look like shimmering forms in red and blue which seemingly dissolve into the silver smoke of his works. In one silkscreen work titled The Broken Wing, the wings of an old aircraft, lie on a wheat field like textured background where it is slowly transforming into a sapphire obelisk. In yet another work, puffs of cumulo-nimbus clouds float over a softly outlined skyscraper. Solid triangles bounce against the clouds in a work with a strong cubist flavour. The colours are subdued and well balanced, the forms splendidly organised, giving some of the abstract still lives a brooding magnetism that is rare.

Majumdar avoids choreographed drama rather choosing a gradual transformation — a fluidity of form — brilliantly brought out in a painting of pirouetting women who are no more than ink blobs and a clutch of blue-white forms (perhaps the wings of some bird) against an ochre yellow background. In the distance, an electric blue sky is cramped away to the edge of the canvas, making this an image of the quest for freedom.

(Poonam Goel is a freelance journalist who contributes articles on visual arts for

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