Re-visiting the Root
by Aritrik Bhattacharyya
Birendra Pani's recent body of works exhibited at Aakriti Art Gallery, Kolkata under the title Re-vision portrays the artist's skill in different forms of art. The exhibition is quite rightly named as he went on to engage his art with the once popular but now endangered traditional dance form called Gotipua dance and the past cultural tradition of Odisha in a broader logic. In that sense, this exhibition is nothing but an association with the rural tradition and it's reflection with blend of fantasy.
Gotipuas are the boys who are trained to perform as female from their childhood, their rhythm, language and their lifestyle has been reflected quite precisely in the exhibition. Birendra Pani's apprehension for them finds colour in his group of paintings titled as Boy Dancer.
Being from a small town of Odisha, Birendra Pani finds his responsibility in presenting his traditional art form to the World. Pani recently said in an interview, “As an artist, I communicate with the world through my paintings. Our bond with nature and culture is deteriorating. Re-vision is an attempt to relook and re-introduce today's generation to this dying Art, which was solely aimed at entertaining the people outside the temple.” His words are enough to convey his purpose behind his style of Art.
The most striking part of his painting is the perfect blend of tradition and modern days, to be specific he has successfully presented the fantasy of nostalgic past with change in space and time. The edification is not irrespective of contemporary state of affairs. The canvases are nothing but the medium of conversation between past and present. By showcasing a fraction of Indian tradition with present-day outlook the artist has proved that he is not at all obsessed with it. In that sense, his objective of focusing on the tradition of Gotipua dance is an absolute success. In his paintings, often we get to see few known Konark sculptures, few of them are remarkably broken which leads us to that certain fact that the culture and tradition we had is on the verge of extinction.
Beside paintings, there are few photographs and a couple of videos present in the exhibition. The video titled, Missing show Birendra Pani's ability to see usual things little differently. In the video, an old man finds himself lost among hostile crowd of Hong Kong Street. Other video titled Spring is also noteworthy. In contrast, photographs present in the exhibition showcase Pani's responsibility for Art as his photographs are of few early sculptures of Odisha, which are still lying, almost unnoticed outside the famous Konark Sun Temple premises, in negligence.
All together the exhibition is full of variation, with colourful canvases and black & white photographs and videos. The show is almost like a journey to our past, to our heritage. It is probably a search for our self-identity, which we can never ignore but only can modify with time and space. We can wish that he 're-visits' his favourite tradition quite more often.
The show started on 18th March, 2011 and will continue till 31st March, 2011.