The Telegraph
Sunday , February 21 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Giant toad, sculpture park

Ashoke Mullick’s paintings being displayed at Aakriti Art Gallery are essentially drawings, heavily dependent on lines and veering towards illustrations, large though these canvases are. In keeping with the trend in Bengal, Mullick’s works are figurative, and he tries to introduce a sense of drama by juxtaposing the human figures with discrepant elements. This, too, is a tried and tested device.

Thus a woman poses for a photograph with a giant toad perched on her head. A young man holds a globe in his hands. A businessman sits on a sofa with a hawk perched on his shoulder. A young man holds a tiger by its tail, in what is meant to be a homage to Tyeb Mehta. A political leader screams into the microphones held before him while he gesticulates with one hand. A fish-headed man floats amidst a shoal of finned creatures.

Some of these figures with their exaggerated features and gestures are quite close to caricatures. The artist pokes fun at these human targets. The politician is an obvious target, and although satire may not have been intended, the larger than life gesture is certainly there. This goes well with his application of pigment that gives a posterish look to his paintings. Mullick uses flat areas of grey or chrome yellow along with sharply contrasting blues and greens. He makes liberal use of black for outlines and dark shadows that form an important element of his compositions.

Not every club of government officers takes any interest whatsoever in visual art. Music and dance are popular mediums but neither painting nor sculpture are appreciated that easily. The Calcutta Port Officers’ Club seems to be an exception. This club held an exhibition of sculptures of artists well-known in the state in its lawn on the club premises in Chowringhee last week. The sculptors used a variety of material such as wood, bronze and fibre glass.

Of the 13 participating artists the seniors were Bipin Goswami, Shanu Lahiri, Manik Talukdar, Shankar Ghosh and Tapas Sarkar. Their works were typical of the periods they belong to. The work was mostly figurative and a robust fisherwoman, musicians, Buddha, mother and child, a torso and a mermaid were among the pieces that stood out.

The club would like to continue holding exhibitions annually. It should think of using spotlights so that the exhibition can be seen even at night.

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