The overcast sky along with the breeze in the quiet surroundings brought out their creative best. At the five-day National painting camp at the Governor’s House here, 25 artists - a majority being Odia - remained immersed in their own worlds as they began to paint the canvases with myriad hues. Coming from all over the country, the State Lalit Kala Akademi’s effort to group them at this peaceful location bore fruit. The works produced were all beautiful interplay of colours, white space, forms and ideas. The list of participants included the popular names in the contemporary art scene in Odisha and New Delhi.
Extension of series
Art historian and veteran artist Dinanath Pathy’s painting was a collage of various ideas. He produced a tiger on a rice paper with minimal usage of colours. The painting was an extension of his series on ‘Save the Tiger’ and a golden hue dominated the work. “The golden colour is significant of the preciousness of the animal that is on the verge of extinction,” he said. Giving an Odia touch to his work, he drew smaller motifs of figurines from Odishan temples. On the top of the work, he wrote an announcement of the train route to reach Locarno and Zurich. “I recently visited Switzerland and the train route that I have included in my work is a memory of my trip,” he said.
Senior artist D N Rao, popular for his Soura paintings, drew a symbiotic relationship between a snake and an owl. Using blue and black, he put his subjects in a forest environ and drew other smaller animals surrounding the owl and snake. He decorated his primary subjects with motifs of Soura tribal art.
Painter of international repute, Jagannath Panda, too produced a painting on his series of ‘The Speaking Tree’ in watercolour on paper. The faces of different animals were drawn on the branches of the tree and the artist used speech ballons to show interaction among the living creatures.
Through his painting of melting ice cubes, artist Pratul Dash lamented at the all round environmental and social degradation. Said the young artist about his work, “I am concerned about huge deforestation, changing landscape and the vertical growth which I see as an individualistic growth”.
Likewise, global warming was the central theme of Pradosh Swain. He painted a hand inducing a slice of greenery into a dry red landscape that is devoid of life. The painter has been known in the art circle for his usage of bright colours.
Tapan Dash merged abstract art with his fascination for faces. His painting, a mix of orange, yellow, red and white colours, aimed at showing the ills of smoking and pollution that is resultant of an increasing number of vehicles on the roads today.
Besides working on themes, a lot many artists experimented with forms. While Ramakant Samantray showed the art in Odia alphabets in mixed media, Asit Kumar Patnaik worked on female form to show the energy and strength of a woman, the most beautiful and strong creation of the Almighty. Ramakanta said the circular character of Odia letters is an art in itself.
Basic forms from Pata Chitra continued to show in the works of Anup Chand on canvas with emphasis on the use of black lines and form. Getting into the realms of contemporary art, he put the motifs against layers of modernity in his painting on a traditional theme revolving around Lord Krishna and the Universe.
Artist Bibhu Patnaik recreated ‘Sobhavati’, a palm leaf painting of Raghunath Prusty where he drew British elements like watches, sofa sets and cutlery for the first time in a plam leaf painting.
The women in the camp - Helen Brahma, Diana Mohapatra and Sailabala Nayak - too impressed with their creations. While Helen continued her work on ‘Silk Worms’, Diana in her painting showed the divinity aspect of a female form. She created a woman seated just like Devi Durga, but instead of a tiger there was a bald man. She drew elements that are used in every day rituals. “While there are many parts in the country where women are given the prime importance, there are also places where ills like dowry deaths and female foeticide exist. People today fail to realise that women are the creators of the universe,” she said.
On the other hand, Sailabala Nayak, experimented with her divine forms from Indian mythology but with a contemporary touch.
Art of interaction
For most of the participating artists, the camp paved way for an interaction among artists. “Most artists work solo, holed up in their studios and rarely get an opportunity to see the working styles of other artists. An art camp is an opportunity to see creativity unfold in fellow artists and in the process perhaps one can pick up a few tips,” said Siba Panigrahi who produced yet another work on his theme ‘Dreams from the Skyscape’ in the camp.
The camp, the artists said, was also a way of catching up on the latest techniques in the world of fine arts. “While we are working, we end up discussing everything from current affairs to cinema in addition to critical appreciation of each other’s works,” said Jagannath Panda.
The art camp was organised by the Odisha Lalit Kala Akademi along with the Culture Department. State Lalit Kala Akademi Secretary Rabi Narayan Rath said this is the first time that the Governor M C Bhandare expressed interest in organising an art camp in Raj Bhavan. All the works produced in the camp will be put up for public exhibition at the Rashtriya Lalit Kala Akademi on July 26 and 27. Two big halls at Raj Bhavan have been kept ready for housing paintings of the artists. The halls will later be converted into art galleries.