With love from Bengal
- Padma Jayaraj
August 10, 2013
They, a group of acclaimed artists, came from Bengal to Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai to showcase artistic activities in Bengal. The show from 17th to 23rd July 2013 was a peep into the uniqueness of Bengali cultural impulses which we celebrate as a part of our diversity in the subcontinent. Paintings from Bengal that covered the walls decorated, spoke and provoked thoughts. Among the many works of art displayed, the sculptures wrought by Anjana Kirtania and Tinku Banerjee stood out for their depiction of a cross-section of life in Bengal.
The humanscape set against Mother Earth represents the microcosm caught within the macrocosm. The entire gamut of human experience in its physical and metaphysical realms is captured by Anjana Kirtania. She had won Academy of Fine Arts Scholarship (2004). A winner of prestigious awards like Award for the Best Artist at Avantika Regional Art Exhibition, Kolkata (2004), Anjana has solo exhibitions at Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata to her credit.
Semi-abstract in form, human activity in its many nuances is presented in the medium of sculpture, predominantly metal. The perennial theme the Couple, evokes the origin of life, both the Darwinian concept and the creation myths. Ascend with Joy, the child astride his father’s shoulder, is beautiful like the nostalgic childhood down memory lane, down the evolutionary ladder. Silent Watch showcases a human face in an abstract form, which recalls the Roman god Janus looking into the future and to the past. It speaks of the tragic plight of humans who live ether in the past or in future forgetful of the blissful present. At another level it is the symbol of the real and the masks that we humans wear. Soul Confess is a faceless human figure, a heart-rending piece truly dramatic in its very posture, tragic in intensity, beyond the judge or the prison walls, where in the soul is engaged with the Creator. Lover, a young woman hugging a bunch of flowers close to her heart, is the expression of the feeling of love in its elemental form. Artistic expressions are an aspect that Anjana Kirtania is in love with. Such a musician, the singer lost in his singing, is a unique example.
Environmental concerns bother this thinking artist. Humans are just one among the many species that inhabit mother Earth. One of her pieces shows how the sun nourishes the land and its beings. The birds and the fishes live in their allotted domains. What business do we have to think that we are the masters, and we can dominate? From the temporal we move on to the ethereal. Meditation recalls the stalwarts of Bengal, Sri Ramakarishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda et al. The Arch is a piece that reminds you of a street circus performer. Yet, the innumerable arcs that his limbs create within its arched body, is where the art of dance begins.
If there is a mystical dimension to the works of Anjana Kirtania, Tinku Banerjee shows strong traits of the masculine, steely and the earthy in his sculptures. Tinku Banerjee, tilts more to abstract expressions. The Rikshaw puller can be juxtaposed to the Arch. The piece displays neither art nor drama, but the real tragic human plight, injustice done by man to man, a sight still seen in Kolkata. The Bull, in its two manifestations reveals its true character: its violent self by Tinku Banerjee and its majestic yet gentle nature by Anjana Kirtania. The artists together traverse their cultural landscape. Lady with her violin is a striking piece. His Gandhiji is a superb expression of minimalism. He celebrates ‘Hundred years of Indian Cinema’ in his Tribute to Satyajit Ray representing the iconic figure of Satyajit Ray wielding his camera. Close by, we see Durga and Apu of Pather Panchali running to see the train. His Running Horse is the soul and spirit of power, done in welded scrap metal. Similarly, The Targe, created in scrap metal and wood is symbolic of the limitless human ambitions.
Based in Kolkata, Tinku Banerjee is an eminent artist whose field of work is sculpture, paper collage on board, mixed media, relief work on wood and terracotta. He has exhibited solo shows and participated in group shows as well in India .A winner of many awards, a number of his works of art are part of private collections. He was invited to an International Design Competition held in Osaka, Japan.
Ironically, what is absent in their representation of the cultural rhythms of Bengal is the larger than life figure that still dominates the art scene of Bengal, their Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. Of course, the artists do not claim that they represent Bengal. But I searched for those telltale signs in vain. My mind longed for its tribal martial dance Chhau, a unique dance form.
Padma Jayaraj is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to www.narthaki.com