When he’s not creating glass sculptures or paintings, artist Sisir Sahana is either penning scripts for feature films, researching for documentary films, singing accompanied by a harmonium, playing a bamboo flute or observing his natural surroundings.
“I like the darkest of dark and the brightest of bright day,” says Sahana.At present, the sculptor is showcasing 12 new sculptures in a solo show, A Dialogue with Soil, at Gallerie Ganesha in the national capital.
These works were created in a residency programme at Pittsburgh Glass Centre, USA earlier this year.
“It was a great opportunity for me to use the most upgraded technological support,” says the 56-year-old professor of Ceramics & Glass, Department of Design, Kala Bhavana, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan.
Talking about the show, Sahana says, “It is about frozen time, our roots, our connection with nature. I have been working on a similar concept for a long time in both paintings and sculptures.”
Sahana’s recent creations discover past through present times.
“These works are based on archival metaphors discovered through digging various layers. To create these layers, I worked through various treatments of glass. I do not care for the traditional notion of making glass a sophisticated, polished and transparent material,” shares the sculptor.
Hailing from a remote village in West Bengal’s Bankura district, Sahana’s initial artistic journey was not easy as convincing his father about his love for art was difficult.
“My urge to draw and paint drove me to an art school in Bardhaman, 45km from our village. I walked 6km to take a bus. I got to know about Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan, through my art teacher, Samar Mukhopadhyay, who supported me financially to study art,” reminisces the sculptor.
While pursuing his Master’s at Kala Bhavana in 1987, he started reverse painting on glass (paint is applied to a piece of glass and the image is viewed by turning the glass over and looking through it).
“This pushed me to learn stained glass at St Martin’s College of Art and Design, London, on Commonwealth Scholarship. I extended experience of how glass behaves at high temperature when placed in an oven while making stained glass. That was a part of an exciting endeavour of devoting myself in glass fusing, glass slumping, glass casting and experimenting more in glass as a medium of expression.”
It was while working with the glass medium that he discovered its connection nature.
“I started wondering about the materials that I had been working with, reconstituted with various oxides and minerals. And then I realised what I have been expressing is conceived from life in the soil.”
The sculptor recreates his works by incorporating discarded shards of glass objects by other artists and discarded roots, seeds, flowers, leaves and shells.
“These glass objects were broken while being made. I pick up and recreate in remoulding. I use my own pre-used objects. I integrate, reignite and recycle to recreate,” avers Sahana.
Terming glass as a quarrelsome wife, he says, “Glass is unpredictable and needs to be handled with care.” Even though Sahana continues to paint, glass remains closest to his heart. “It is a tough medium to work with.
"It can be brittle, crystalline or non-crystalline, fragile, transparent or translucent, but carries my everyday correspondences with nature.”
Dabbling in other art forms
Occasionally, Sahana takes a break and turns into a filmmaker.
He has directed Prithvi (2006) in Bengali and Telugu, about a life of an artist, Maati-O-Manush (screened at various film festivals) and a documentary film Suryaprakash: A Journey Through Life and Art (2012).
However, he’s still unsure about what he is creating should be termed as art. “To me, it is just another form of human expression. I couldn’t realise on any particular occasion that I’m in the field of art or I’m an artist,” he says.
On: January 8, 2020At: Gallerie Ganesha