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Predators’ playground

Dr Eugene McCarthy, an American geneticist, has proposed that humans were the outcome of a curious hybridisation between pigs and chimps.

This unlikely evolutionary theory has, for good reason, been trashed by everybody concerned. However improbable such hybrids may be in real life, such creatures born of miscegenation have been the stock in trade of cartoonists. Humanoid foxes, sheep, and chimps used to be frequently featured in the political cartoons of Kutty, whose work used to appear in the columns of Anandabazar Patrika in the 1950s and 1960s.

Suman Choudhury, who has participated in a group exhibition titled, Evocative Rhythms, now on at the ICCR’s Bengal Art gallery till Tuesday, continues to work in this time-honoured tradition.

In his largest work, Choudhury has created a tropical paradise where all the exotic birds and beasts are hybrids with human faces. The jungle crawls with these humanoids in the water, air, trees and in the shrubs and bushes, busily pursuing their prey. Fine draughtsman that he is, the jungle turns into a fascinating playground of predators. There is even a Tarzan with blue skin. Perhaps he had Krishna in mind.

The smaller canvases are more compact. Choudhury is good at caricatures and each face is distinguishable and looks like people we have met before. The chinless wonder, the man with a beetling chin overhanging like a cliff, and numerous other recognisable types. The happy family of advertisements turns into a three-some with a toothy grin.

His drawings of the beggar and ragpicker are well observed and have the endearing quality of Sudhir Dar’s cartoons. Choudhury’s Beast with a protruding tongue like a feral gecko and a man’s nose for genitals would have hit home if only he tightened the composition.

His towering figure of the tantrum-throwing Boss is effective because he stuck to a single figure instead of allowing the eye to stray by adding more forms. Choudhury’s overburdened children make him a keen observer of social realities.