Their easels and canvases were different, but the artists who displayed their works at the six-day exhibition in Bhubaneshwar had one thing in common—a passion for painting. What makes ‘Couple of Strokes’, held recently at Odisha Modern Art Gallery (OMAG), unique was that all participants were married couples. As many as 23 such couples from different age groups showcased their works that depicted landscapes, abstract, figurative and mythological paintings. The traditional, the contemporary and a few combinations of the both genres adorned the walls of the gallery.
The show was not intended to exhibit commonalities in the paintings, but the artists’ artworks complemented each other. While 70-year-old Jagdish Kanungo had painted ‘escaping’ with a contemporary touch that depicted a bird craving for freedom to fly in oil and acrylic, Jyotirmayee’s creation had Buddha on tussar canvas, who signified peace and freedom from worldly desires in typical Indian style.
“We don’t interfere in each others’ work, but advice on colour combination and shades. We comment on matters of creativity in a healthy way,’’says Jyotirmayee. She paints as per the availability of time, but her husband does it almost every day. “I send my paintings to all exhibitions where I am invited to participate,” says Jagdish.
Most of the family members of the elderly couple are into fine arts. “The exhibition was an eye-opener for many couples who have chosen to be together in life and in arts. Given a chance, I would also organise shows with similar themes where paintings done by a family can be displayed,’’ he says. Jagadish is a well-known artist and has been associated with Lalit Kala Akademi for over 35 years.
Paintings by young couples were displayed at the exhibition too. Sadhana Mishra and Gourahari Rout find time to pursue their passions despite being government employees. “We complement each other in arts, like in real life. She is my biggest critic. We give each other space to nurture arts, but also accept suggestions,” Rout says. He paints whenever a concept strikes him.
Rout started painting with pen and ink, but shifted to acrylic. He had drawn a meditation posture called ‘Sat Chit Anand’, which highlighted the importance of yoga. His wife created a spiritual ‘Tat Sat’ with an ‘om’ in the backdrop of a rising sun, in acrylic. Rout, a doctorate in Odia literature, has authored several books.
The idea behind the exhibition started taking shape some six years ago when director of OMAG Tarakanta Parida and his artist friend Pradosh Swain thought of showcasing paintings by couple artists. “By 2016, we found 23 couples who agreed to participate. We are surprised with the response,’’ Tarakanta says.
Swain and his wife Nivedita participated in the exhibition too. He highlights social issues in his paintings and has participated in various shows in India and abroad.
The exhibition had a range of works from water colour to acrylic, photorealism to sculptures, from drawings to print and ceramic. “The artists were from three generations. From veterans like septuagenarian Kanungo and D N Rao to the middle-aged Gourahari, Pradosh Swain, Anup Chand and Subhalaxmi Patra. A few young graduates participated too. So there was too much of variety and the show received a good footfall,’’ Parida says.
Most of the participating couples are well-known and regularly showcase their creations at exhibitions in India and abroad. The best part of the exhibition was the exchange of ideas and techniques where one got to learn a lot of things.
Frame by Frame
● The idea of the ‘couples only’ exhibition started taking shape six years ago when a few people thought of displaying paintings by couple artists
● By 2016, 23 couples agreed to participate
● The traditional, the contemporary and combinations of the both genres were displayed at the exhibition