At times there’s a sound purpose to plenty— and 67 or so artists in one show would be deemed plenty — even if the bag were mixed catering to every taste and every pocket. Catholicity characterized Emamichisel Art’s recent show, Sahanubhuti, for there was a cause to raise funds for: Uttarakhand relief. With 71 works on view the bag would, expectedly enough, have its share of soulful women and visual bromides from mythology. But that was certainly outweighed by expressions to reflect upon.
This was seen, for example, in two established artists with quite atypical works. One was Sanjay Bhattacharya, who set aside his illusionist brush for a digital print that yet pursued illusion quite cunningly. Not, strictly, of form but of substance, an intriguing clayey substance of pummelled folds and furrows that was inviting in its sensuous plasticity (picture). The other was Samir Aich. His quietly captivating canvas in white celebrated the monsoon with laconic little motifs — mushrooms and a leaping frog — and diagonal hyphens playing raindrops.
Partha Pratim Deb, who refuses to stale with age, presents works that are, typically, atypical. That was true for his quirky head in this show, too, with interludes of squiggly black lines on white battling through the primary colours. Another head, that drew the eye immediately for its fluent brush, was a 1995 watercolour by another veteran, Sunil Das, and appeared to be a self-portrait. The other senior to mention is Ganesh Haloi whose halting, nervy, ink lines and crosses on a ground of pale grey stains again demonstrated the startling eloquence of economy.
Anita Roy Chowdhury’s semi-abstract oil guided the eye up vertically with her usual breezy, buoyant, strokes and smudges, while another landscape one noticed for its fetching charm was by Sohini Dhar. Featured also was a 2009 gouache in which Ramlal Dhar, in a departure from his known format, had placed a human figure, though his signature blues were as luminous. If Shrabani Roy’s After Rain was alluring for its laden atmosphere, Umakant Kanade’s black-and-white acrylic with just touches of colour was breathtaking in its supple, detailed brushwork and poetic in its presentation. But Shibaprasad Kar’s semi-abstract weave with wool, jute, hemp and cotton composed a virile rhythm with shapes that recalled hills and trees. His other work, a painting of spontaneous patterns that incorporated in the layout the artist’s name in the Bengali script, had the quaky alpona lines reminiscent of a well-known senior and was lively too.
In her Amber Moon, Ketaki Roy Choudhury applied acrylic — a dirty mud-brown — with crafty variations, articulating the agile, tripping route of the bristles to suggest liquefied volume and velocity. Whereas Prasanta Kolay’s faux calligraphic strokes in black worked up a vigorous chaos, P.P. Raju’s red band of varying thicknesses sweeping into balletic loops was elegant, if somewhat ornate, calligraphy and finely controlled. By contrast, Prasun Kanti Bhattacharya allowed no concession to his Mondrianesque geometry. Another abstractionist to mention was Nirban Ash for the tense balance between cold, dark rectangles and a red orb.
Of the other paintings, those by Mahesh Baliga and Prasanta Sahu must be mentioned. One for the lithe figures and the other for reinventing an everyday moment as a dramatic visual in contrasts of red, black and white. Atanu Mukherjee’s contorted figure conveyed a certain psychological dimension, but Aloke Sardar’s 78” X 70” canvas, bursting with numerous sketchy figures and a range of colours, indeed declared a Festive Mood. Tapas Ghosal’s gallery of quaint heads was, obviously, a tongue-in-cheek engagement with form and colour, while Aditya Basak’s zebra, strangely still in a sort of twilight zone, was a departure from his usual dark fantasies. And though Chandan Debnath’s squat and heavy figures in bright clothes recalled established artists, their capricious excerption and overlapping in a vertical composition certainly made his acrylic worthy of note.
Among the sculptures, one was by Sutanu Chatterjee representing a comical pair of rooster and hen in bronze. Another was Bidhu Bhusan Choudhury’s tribute to the magician of sublime comicality, Chaplin. More earnest in temperament were Prabir Biswas and Amiya Dhara with bronzes of rugged strength. Dipika Saha’s work had a piquant appeal, while Gopal Prasad Mandal sought to refresh the cliché of a meditating Buddha. And then there were two interesting little tableaux in bronze: Tusharkanti Das Roy’s light-hearted River Side and Tapas Biswas’s Lunch Break. Its twelve figures seated at a table, head bent, seemed weighed down by a grim, funereal atmosphere. Were they damned in a penitentiary?