BENGALURU: Artist Paresh Hazra presents modern-day concerns like atrocities against women in his series Adam and Eve.
The works, rendered in charcoal and gold foil, are currently on display at the exhibition Modernists of Bangalore at Art Houz.
They play out the story of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden and its present day implication. The unidentifiable naked female form symbolises how society victimises women. The apple becomes a metaphor of desire, lust and unbridled temptation.
The master draughtsman keeps his characters faceless.
“There are so many atrocities but no one does anything about them. The face reflects expressions, and people no longer truly express what they feel. So my characters have no faces,” he says.
The body is the main attraction he believes.
“The images of rotten apple and snake symbolise the transformation from Adam’s time and to present-day civilisation,” he says.
A storyteller at heart, he says he merely drops hints and lets art lovers find the story for themselves. Hazra experiments with textures using objects like string, fabric and gauze.
He mainly uses natural colours. Natural pigments have a longer life, he explains, and remain vibrant throughout, unlike chemical paints.
He has made a few documentary films to present a socio-political critique. Films, he says, reach more people than paintings.
Hazra was born and brought up in a village Khanyadihi in West Bengal.
“I admire folk art. It comes from the roots, and is rich and lively. Karnataka also has great art forms like Yakshagana,” he says.
He studied at the Government College of Art and Craft, Kolkata, and in 1981, moved to Bengaluru.
“There were very few artists then. Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath produced some. Then came the institutions like Ken School of Art and Kalamandir,” he recalls. “Several others migrated here. But there are very few big names here compared to cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.”
There is not much interest in arts in the city either, he feels. The concept of art is different here; they are more technology-oriented, he explains.
“Most of my works are bought by the people from Mumbai, Kolkata and abroad,” he offers.
The present day market, according to him, poses a huge challenge. The buying behaviour has changed, he says. He and his peers are disturbed by the online galleries coming up. They leave little room for interaction between the artist and the collector, he reasons.
“Earlier, people would come to galleries and interact with the artists. But now, they buy art sitting at home in a few clicks on a computer. People do not have time to visit galleries these days,” he rues.
Artists are also not involved in the marketing of the works, he adds. “The galleries take this on instead, and the works are sold at a higher price, with their commission and tax. Hence art has fewer takers,” he says.
This trend has also ‘forced artists to create what people want to buy’. He adds, “Artists hardly experiment any more.”
Hazra’s works have been exhibited in prestigious galleries across the country, and in UK, USA, China and Nepal.
*Modernists of Bangalore, a group show featuring 10 artists who shaped the city's art scene, has been extended till August 13.