Mere concept notes do not make conceptual art. Good art, of any genre or age, usually surpasses words, either written or spoken. Installations are supposed to enfold viewers in their time and space and influence their ideas and outlook through any and every kind of medium, be it 2D, 3D, a video, a live interaction or a performance.
The works on display at the Mirage Art Gallery in New Alipore — the show is on till the end of August, barring Mondays — have long concept notes alongside them about the ‘process’: the surge of ideas, technical and emotional explorations and so on. But these notes seem mostly redundant (as the works speak for themselves) or serve only to underline artistic inadequacy or a flawed concept.
The gallery lends itself well to small, individual installations. Here we have ten young artists, all from Santiniketan: Anup Mondal, Ashimita Mondal, Chandranath Saha, Durbananda, Ishita Chakraborty, Mithun Das, Pallavi Das, Rajen Mondal, Ruma Choudhury and Sourav Pal. Their different ideas, approaches and mediums together make for entertaining viewing. Some works, in fact, stand out.
Chandranath Saha is preoccupied with the “behavioural transformations” initiated by the packaging and marketing industry. Perfumes and deodorants are sold as things that can bring out hidden traits in man, so that he, like God, can take on different avatars. But, of course, these traits are not all godly, and much of it is illusion — ‘gas,’ as a perfume company would advertise.
Perfumes are the modern icons. Sparkly scent bottles substitute Hindu gods on little thrones generally used for worship. The semblance of gold leaf ornamental patterns seen in religious texts and iconography has been recreated in a large-ish mixed media. At the centre is a rather puny youth, spraying himself with perfume. And almost magically, he acquires Ganesh’s trunk — albeit a rather impoverished version of it — as well as Shiva’s moon and Ganga. A lotus blooms from his navel like Vishnu, and he flaunts the tail of Hanuman.
With Ishita Chakraborty, an entire room keens with women’s agony and despair — often unseen, yet as sharp as thousand-thorned cactuses. Women restricted, dominated, abused, battered, literally torn apart, rejected, vilified, and reduced to a faceless body or a vegetable, with fleshy, seed-bearing interiors, soft and vulnerable. Tiny glass eyes, pasted on the wall between the objects, heighten the feeling of being watched or scrutinized. Neat and single-minded, Ishita uses each wire and each space within the box frames to further the experience (picture).
Rajen Mondal’s work takes graphic prints out of conventional flat frames and, by sandwiching them between sheets of fiberglass cut outs, hangs them at varying heights, like mobiles waiting for a gust of air to send them spinning. The clouds etched on some of them take forward Mondal’s idea that man can touch the clouds.