Forty contemporary women artists from across the State and outside have come together to bridge various divides in art through ‘Art Era,’ an ongoing exhibition of paintings at Odisha Modern Art Gallery (OMAG). The artists, comprising both established and upcoming, are exhibiting their work in solidarity and as an effort to use art as a tool to connect.
A large green canvas with the portrait of a beautiful woman welcomes visitors to the gallery. The portrait is pleasing, but surrounded by various elements that add to the curiosity. Tendrils form a halo over her head and umbrellas surround her. The artist Lipsa Patnaik Mohanty, has named her work ‘Nirvaya’. “This painting is based on the Delhi gangrape case which was yet another reminder that women in our country are not safe. While the tendrils signify the beautiful nature, umbrellas mean protection. I have drawn the tendrils to show that even in nature, God’s most beautiful creation - the woman - is unsafe,” says Lipsa.
Jharkhand-based artist Sunita Verma’s canvas reflects her minimalist style. What appears to be an abstract night scene on canvas in pleasing blues, pinks, yellows, blacks and the like with a little bit of green thrown in, becomes quite soulful, almost spiritual, when one keeps looking.
Ragini Sinha’s painting, is a rather austere one colour wise, with just yellow, brown and a splash of red. Titled ‘Udaan’, Ragini has drawn kites with two large bright red marks signifying womanhood. “Most of the art work portray aspirations of women who want to fulfill their dreams and fly high,” says Tarakanta Parida, curator of the show and convenor of the gallery.
Upcoming artist Chandra Shailajangee’s wood cut work ‘Couple’ is quite arresting as well. In a two-piece installation, Priyadarshini Mohanty has used a hair pin in one frame and ‘trishul’ in another to show women empowerment. Similarly, Manjushree Das’s painting draws a parallel between the Mother Nature and Woman, the creators.
Like these, many works in the exhibition are on women - their dreams, hopes, disillusionment and despair. Some even have an autobiographical touch. Like their lives, their paintings are realistic, simple and transparent.
This is the sixth edition of Art Era, which was started in 2008 with the realisation that trained women artists are hitting the roadblock. There has been an enrolment of large number of female students in the art colleges of the State every year. Ironically, in the State-level art events presence of women artists has remained a rarity. The reason is the predictable lack of encouragement after they settle down to domesticity.
The group was formed by artists like Chitra Patnaik, Lipishree Nayak, Atasi Basu Jena, Mamata Samantray and Paramita Mohanty, among others with the help of OMAG convenor Parida.
They held their first exhibition at the Gallery on the International Women’s Day the same year. Today, the number in the group has gone up to 40 and has guest artists from New Delhi, Santiniketan and Benaras.
The exhibition that was inaugurated on March 8, will continue till March 14.