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Slices of a silent life on canvas

Arindam Chakraborty

He has a physical handicap, and has faced many an obstacle in life. But Arindam Chakraborty hasn’t let any of that get him down. The 26-year-old’s twin loves in life are art and literature, which are also his ways of self-expression. Communicating is particularly important for this poet and painter, because he’s hearing impaired.

“Most of my art works are a result of my experiences and how I’ve had to cope with my shortcomings,” he says. The congenital hearing problem compounded itself when he fell ill at a young age and lost his voice as well, for a couple of years. Treatment and a trip to the US a decade ago means that he can talk now, and can also hear marginally with help of a hearing aid.

Drawing, with paper and pencil in hand, has been Arindam’s therapy. It’s his struggle in a lonely, silent world that he mirrors through his abstract and post-modernist images — from dark, brooding charcoal sketches to vibrantly colourful acrylic on canvas and mixed media on paper. They are deeply personal, he explains, like Rainbow and Me, My Inside Story and Bagh Bahadur and the Deaf. There’s nothing ordinary about them, and each one is depicted in his own unique way.

Some of his creations are experimental styles, others are a reflection of events around him, like Man and Woman and Brain Drain. And some are purely imaginative, like Fantasy and The Twilight Zone. But there’s one common thread — they have all played a part in influencing Arindam’s life.

Unable to sit for his Higher Secondary exams because his father passed away at the time, he bounced back two years later in 1997, and enrolled in the faculty of visual arts at Rabindra Bharati University. Having passed with a second division, Arindam’s ready to complete his post-graduation in painting next year, which he achieved through the National Centre Employment of Promotion for Disabled People in 2002.

The young man from Barrackpore now has his first solo exhibition in progress at the Academy of Fine Arts, after several group ones with fellow students. On till July 8, he’s proud of the fact that he has been able to come this far, with support and encouragement from family and friends, and inspiration from artists like Paritosh Sen and Ramananda Bandopadhyay. “Earlier, I used to copy them. Now, I’ve developed my own style,” he says.

Writing poems is Arindam’s other passion. Mostly “philosophical, yet emotional expressions” of life, they, too, find imagery in his artistic works. But none of this would have happened had it not been for his hunger for reading anything he could get his hands on, fed by his father, to make his silent burden just that little bit lighter. And for that, he’s thankful.

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