A pigeon sits comfortably on a stack of letters placed inside a large red letter box. Not cleared for years, the letters have stained brown with the passage of time. In stark contrast, behind the obsolete snail mail box are high-rising new-age telecommunication towers.
Titled ‘The Rest’, the painting by Pradosh Swain narrates the fast pace inwhich life has been changing. With e-mails and telecommunication changing the face of communication network, postal services today have been pushed into oblivion.
Similarly, Stitadhi Rath, a painter from Ganjam who has been working on the themes of art and heritage of Southern Odisha, showcases a beautiful piece titled ‘Glorious Culture’. Culture comprising the monumental grandeur and rich art and craft of his region is depicted in the form of a dancer, an integral part of almost all his paintings, who is shown picking up pearls from her broken necklace. At the same time, she carries the burden of the ‘Glorious Culture’ on her back, the stones of which are falling apart one by one thereby shrinking the space that culture and heritage enjoy in the modern times.
Many such interesting works are put up on the walls of the Lalit Kala Akademi - about 60 landscapes, figurative paintings and contemporary art, made using acrylics, oils and watercolours as a part of an exhibition - A Vision Ahead. The exhibition celebrates 3rd Shilpi Divas, a celebration of art and Odia artists, organised by the city-based Odisha Modern Art Gallery.
Each of the works is narrative in nature and there is a story involved in the whole presentation.
As you walk around, an acrylic painting of a face catches your attention. With hollow eyes, the face does not look normal. In the backdrop of a dry landscape, the face has on its temple three caged windows that have a tree behind. Playing on the head is a small boy trying to grasp a bucket of currency notes that is suspended from above a crane and on his body are names of MNCs engraved.
Titled ‘The Caged Nature, the painting by Pradeepta Kumar Das shows rapid urbanisation and industrialisation and the face is that of Nature which is bearing the brunt. Other displays include a water colour work of village life with an elderly woman drying cow dung cakes by Raghunath Sahu, a dream taking shape of a butterfly by Shaista Naaz, a painting of Olive Ridleys at Bhitarkanika by Subrat Malick, a ‘Dream Land’ by Anup Chand, a landscape by Arun Pallur and woman’s portrait by Chandramani Biswal.
Artist Chandrasekhar Sethi’s work is unique in its form. Sethi’s style of art involves rich hues and unconventionally drawn figures of human characters. Mostly inspired by primitive traditions of art, the painter creates a dialogue with the viewer through a striking theme ‘The Hope’. While Gaurang Barik presents a work on ‘Raag Kalyaan’, Khetrabasi Mohanta showcases an acrylic piece on ‘The Golden Fish’. Lipsa P Mohanty’s ‘Dream Journey’ attempts to depict a butterfly’s journey where it transforms from a tiny egg to a voracious caterpillar, from pupa to a full-grown butterfly. “For me, witnessing and studying these stages in the lifespan of a butterfly has been a magical experience. It’s surprising how this delicate transition survives the odds of nature. Here, I’ve composed and compiled a few butterfly quotes that will serve as an inspiration to all of us in our journey called life,” she says.
Painter Meenaketan Patnaik has produced another work from his Mythology series where monkeys play a vital role. Popular as the ‘Monkey Man’ in the circuit, Meenaketan has so far created several series of art work with the monkey as the main character.
Similarly, artists Nibedita Pattnaik and Sailabala Nayak have worked on the themes of ‘Devotion’. Works of popular painters Baladev Moharatha and Siba Panigrahi are also on display.
Sculptures on show were equally interesting. Abstract etchings on granite attracted art lovers. Sculptor Chandan Kumar Samal displayed his work on ‘Nature’ showing a seed transforming into a blooming flower.
Similarly, Biswajita Maharana creates gift boxes in stone and Pratap Jena crafts five arrows in the names of ‘Pandavas’. The most interesting piece of them all is a stone work by Saroj Rout who creates a ‘Gauni’ (a bamboo basket used in earlier times to measure paddy) brimming with paddy grains. His work is titled ‘Our Culture’.
One thing is certain after a visit to the gallery - that Odisha has more than just a handful of talented artists. Even the untrained eye of the amateur art lover is sure to enjoy this eclectic collection at the exhibition. A Vision Ahead, which is being organised in collaboration with the Culture Department and the State Lalit Kala Akademi, concludes on December 12.