Art News & Views

North-East Opsis

Art activism in the air…
Art activism is the key word! An overall overwhelming surge to promote, propagate, expose, interact and explore the art of North-East seems to be the throbbing concern of the young generation artists of the region these days, as manifested in the events and activities of the artist community in the last two months, making the art scene truly vibrant and happening.

Shilpangan, an institution of Fine Arts & Crafts of Silchar, Assam, formed with the objective to nurture the promising young artists of the North-Eastern region, organised a three day workshop from 14th May to 16th May at Sishu Udyan, Silchar. Inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor of Assam University, Sri Tapodhir Bhattacharjee, the workshop attempted to interconnect artists from different states of the North-East and have interactions and inter exchange of ideas and experiences along with production of a range of art works. The artists partaking in this creative adventure were Madhushudhun Das, Rajkumar Mazimdar, Abhibrata Chakraborty, Saday Chandradas, Swapan Paul, Shyamal Das, Samit Roy, Pinak Pani Nath, Arun Kumar Paul (Assam); Chandan Majumdar, Paltu Barman, Santanu Dhar, Raju Singh (Tripura); Benedict S Hynniewta (Meghalaya. Panger Onen Aier (Nagaland); Rosiamliana Ralte (Mizoram) and Punyo Chobin (Arunachal Pradesh). These participating talents, most of them trained in different art institutes of Kolkata, Delhi, Baroda etc., have been pursuing art with genuine commitment and understanding of the contemporary idiom of visual language. These artists with their own definite lingual expressions created art works in the workshop that spoke about their individual take on life, environment and the existential predicament of their lived experiences. The predominating trait of the language seemed to be eclecticism in general. However, it would be beyond the scope of this limited space to deliberate upon each individual work here.

“Curves & Shades”, since its inception from 2004, aimed to create an alternate space for young artists of different genres and forms with multiple creative expressions, is an innovation of Ranjan Engti, a Karbi artist from Karbi Anglong, home to the one of the largest indigenous people of Assam. This conglomerated platform with its array of young artists, painters, photographers, singers, writers, film makers strive to preserve and depict the different cultural manifestations of the diverse Northeast India through multiple folds of aestheticism. The opening event of the “Curves & Shades” was an exhibition of painting and photography from the artists of North-East, at the Tagore Hall in Delhi University. With its various agendas and events touring all the seven states of North-East along with projections in different places in the rest of the country, “Curves & Shades” organised an exhibition of painting and photography in the State Art Gallery at Guwahati, from 29th May to 3rd June 2010. The show comprising of six artists, namely, Augustine Rongpi, Ranjan Engti, Sishir Basumatary, Dhritiman Deory, Pankaj J Dutta and Jinnie Barman, was truly a fine mosaic of artistic expressions of youths from different ethnic and cultural groups of Assam. While Augustine Rongpi, Ranjan Engti and Jinnie Barman showcased their paintings, Dhritiman Deory, Pankaj J Dutta and Sisir Basumatary exhibited their photographs. If painterly skilled Augustine's and Jinnie's modernist idioms depicted the intrinsic relation between man and nature, Ranjan expressed political reflexivity and psychical shades of the self. Dhritiman, the singer captured subtle slices of life whereas Pankaj, a Mumbai based talented professional framed various manifestations of the 'Karbi Life' with poetic suggestions. One noteworthy aspect of the photographic presentation was a specific technique used by the Delhi based writer and editor Shisir Basumatary. He calls this technique 'Paint Photo', an idea developed to synergize his skills in photography and painting. The first step, as described by the artist is to find a face a person and then paint him or her, including the background and any other prop that is included within the frame. It is a complex algebra of angle, lights, colours and patience. And he does it without any specialized lights or colours. He uses water based poster colours, which is friendlier to the human skin than oil based colours. The basic idea of 'Paint photo', as he puts it, is to make the final product appear two dimensional just like a piece of painting and not 3D like a photograph.

If the institutes and organisations of Assam have been actively engaged in promoting and propagating the contemporary art of North-East bringing forth momentum in the art scene and art awareness among the public, the artist communities of the other states of the region were also affianced in different artistic endeavours. For instance, Manipur State Kala Akademi announced the results of its 32nd Annual Art Exhibition in the month of May. The Manipur State Kala Akademi is a composite version of the three National Akademies at New Delhi viz, Sangeet Natak, Sahitya and Lalit Kala Akademi. In Manipur, it has been the sole promoter of art and culture since its inception in 1972. It takes initiatives by organizing various events like Annual State Art Exhibitions, Group Art exhibitions outside the state, Mobile Art exhibitions, Bhadra Singh Memorial Lectures, Manipur State Art Exposition and Seminars & Workshops under the sponsorship of Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. The three jury members, namely, Prof. Tombi Singh, Ibochuba Yendremban and B. Banandi Sharma of the 32nd Annual Art Exhibition announced two awards to two young artists--- Khundongbam Ojit Singh (“Like Card Like Race”, Lithography) and Verelmi Shinglai (“Open Zip”, Sculpture.) Meanwhile in the state of Tripura, the artist duo Swapan Nandy and Sanghamitra Nandy, veterans in the art field contributing enormously to the art scene of the state, in a collaborative endeavour have brought out an album of six paintings as a rare tribute to Kaviguru Rabindra Nath Tagore for the occasion of his hundred and fiftieth birth anniversary. Swapan Nandy, a graduate of Govt. College of Art & Crafts, Kolkata, and Sanghamitra Nandy, a graduate from Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, seem to share not only the lingual idiom but also the ideational and conceptual ethos in art as evident in their works. Poetic rendering of Nature in her different seasonal manifestations exuding different vibrant shades of colour, flavour and tactile undulations is the thematic of their artistic tribute. Each work takes off from the lyrical creation of the creative genius of Kaviguru and attempts to render a visual counterpart. Titled as “Rituranga” the album of paintings is a presentation of the Gallery Crimson of Melarmath, Agartala.

Moushumi Kandali






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