Priyanka Majumdar with three of her photographs at Studio21. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Asthir, an art collective started by a group of friends, unveiled its first exhibition in the city at Studio 21 on Dover Terrace on March 4.
Described as “art on the move”, the exhibition, on till March 18, consists of a series of photographs by Priyanka Majumdar, and a number of pen and ink portraits by Amrita Bagchi.
Priyanka’s photographs focus largely on the use and interplay of shadows on normal, mundane objects most people would not look at twice. “Since childhood, I have been intrigued by shadows and their intricacies,” said Priyanka. “I loved the way they meandered in waves over objects. As I started experimenting with photographs of shadows, I realised they are wonderfully versatile. They throw up a world of options, aided by the use of natural light and even yellow or white light.”
The series, named “Din” (meaning Day), consists of photographs of sunlight and shadows playing off old staircases, a couple of pictures of the shadows created by a cyclerickshaw, and interesting photographs of the photographer’s own shadow on stalks of bamboo.
One of the most interesting pictures is of the shadows created on a mud wall by a string of small triangular flags — a common sight in politically-charged Calcutta.
Amrita Bagchi’s pen and ink series comprised a number of interesting, unusual graphics of women and androgynous figures set against bright and deeply-hued backgrounds. The series is called “Restless”, a direct representation of the name of the artist’s art collective Asthir.
“My paintings look to depict the urban alienation so many people in this generation suffer from. This sense of alienation leads to the restlessness that is the basis of my work,” said Bagchi.
While one painting had a woman’s figure in the shape of an open box, a look of weariness and discontent in her eyes while a cat sleeps peacefully in the hollow created by her box-shaped body.
Another painting depicted a faceless girl with braids standing underneath a canopy of sharp vine, as though trapped. The painting’s overriding purple hue lends it a twilight-like air, and catches the eye easily.
There was also a painting of a woman with a startling resemblance to Frida Kahlo, disintegrating bit by bit as her hair flies out behind her. The work exudes a distinctly pop art feel. Set against an orange background that contrasts sharply with the melancholy of the painting, it was the most striking work in the collection. All the paintings have been digitally coloured and grain rendered.
Asthir plans to expand and take the work of its artists to a number of cities across the country.