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A BIT OF THE OLD AS WELL AS THE NEW

Envision, presented by the Birla Academy of Art and Culture between March 22 and April 27, featured both known and little-known artists, and in spite of the presence of much that has been seen before, some of the participants tried to be different. The first exhibits that caught one’s eye were the huge and spectacular pieces by Janak Jhankar Narzary. One was of flickering tongues of flames leaping high. The other, more eye-catching, one was a showy tropical bloom cut out of stainless steel. Both were spare and eschewed superfluities. They proved how size matters — sometimes.

Amitava Dhar’s work has always been close to abstract but there are undeniable suggestions of actual forms in his canvases. And this becomes clearer in his stark, almost monochromatic, paintings. His style has matured with age and now he is more self-assured. Drawing plays a big role in Samir Aich’s works. The palest of colours are suffused all over the large canvases and what really matters are clearly delineated lines suggestive of stalagmites.

Moved by the human condition in a globalized world, Prabhat Basu depicts the faces of oppressed men and women from all over the world. To drive home the point, the actual geographical locations of these scenes of distress are also indicated. But this adds up to very little, and is eminently forgettable.

On the other hand, although it is clear that Sudeshna Haldar derived the distorted limbs of her figures from a certain contemporary master of Bengal, she creates forms her own way. She belongs to the younger group of artists, and she seems to have a mind of her own. However, senior artists like Chanchal Mukherjee and Hiran Mitra still have not turned their backs on their earlier practice, and this can be tiresome.

Diptish Ghosh Dastidar loves to create the illusion of human beings walking, driving a vehicle or whatever on a glass floor instead of the hard ground. Images such as these have been done to death. There is hardly any novelty in these gimmicks. Dark and brooding compositions inspired by modern cities have been the hallmark of Arindam Chatterjee’s works. Vaulting structures dominate the skyline in Chatterjee’s paintings. Although he is a competent draughtsman, his work lacks variety.

Tapas Biswas is among the more talented sculptors that Calcutta has produced in recent times. His work is delicate and elegant and reminds one of organic forms (picture). Of course, there is a direct reference to slender bamboo trees and their leaves. But it is the lilliputian figures which inhabit them that make them so fascinating. He seems to create a complete universe with his intricate bronze pieces. The other exhibits were mostly the outcome of very tired ideas.