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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 23 April 2024

Lone star

The works of most members indicate why the art scene in West Bengal is stagnant. They seem to be totally out of touch with what is happening in the art scene in the rest of the country

Soumitra Das Published 10.02.24, 07:27 AM
An artwork by Partha Pratim Deb

An artwork by Partha Pratim Deb Sourced by the Telegraph

The 54th annual exhibition of Painters’ Orchestra (December 10-16) at the Academy of Fine Arts featured the works of 12 of its 14 members. The group has been holding its annual exhibition regularly. Besides that, it has nothing much to recommend it. The works of most members indicate why the art scene in West Bengal is stagnant. They seem to be totally out of touch with what is happening in the art scene in the rest of the country. The show also proves that the education imparted at art colleges is wholly inadequate.

In the introduction to the 1996 annual exhibition, it was written that there were no big names among its members. However, Partha Pratim Deb, who retired as dean of the faculty of visual arts at Rabindra Bharati University in 2005, and is a member of Painters’ Orchestra, stands out. An octogenarian, he is well-known for his creativity and his innovative use of an endless variety of material. He creates works of amazing freshness. It is obvious that the works were not put together with an eye on the art market; that is what sets him apart from others.

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Deb was trained at Kala Bhavana under Ramkinkar Baij and Benode Behari Mukherjee and, later, at M.S. University under Jyoti Bhatt. His association at Santiniketan with the likes of K.G. Subramanyan had instilled the spirit of adventure into him and this was quite obvious from the works he had on display.

These paintings are on canvas and Deb used both acrylic and mixed media. The most interesting work is done on a layered background — dark, almost black, at the bottom, and lighter at the top. The lemon yellow dots on top dance and wink like fairy lights (picture). In another work, waves of various colours undulate on the canvas. In a third, mysterious forms loom in the distance. Such forms recur in his works but are not replicated. Somehow, they are transformed by his imagination. They bear his distinctive stamp.

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