Romantic tales of lonely women

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By Sandip Sarkar
  • Published 7.04.06
Aesthetic adventure: Paintings by Nirmalendu Mondal (Up) and Prokash Karmakar

The 42nd anniversary exhibition of Calcutta Painters at the Birla Academy is dedicated to Nikhil Biswas (1930-66), who was a founder member of the group.

Four of his works are on view ?an ink drawing of wild horses, two early watercolours of a stained glass interior and ritual bathers in a stream and a gouache painting of the Cathedral with flowering trees in spring. These remind one of the aesthetic adventures of the 1950s and 60s. Bijan Choudhury’s painting of the series on cavalry charge is also on display. Robin Mondal has mellowed much with age. His two muralesque paintings of woman and children in a queue during a festival executed in a happy mood, while his two miniature of an agonised face revive memories of the angry Rabin of yesteryears. Gopal Sanyal’s paintings of folk toy sellers and women singing a classical raga are stylised and subdued.

Prokash Karmakar’s large naughty drawings celebrate the poetry, flexion and curves of a nude woman with demonic relish. Jogen Choudhury’s charcoal and red conti drawings of cuddled up and reclining nude woman, a disfigured upright old man point to the frailty and vanity of human existence. Dhiraj Choudhury conjures up images of cattle standing up and surrounding iconic figures to indicate the fundamentalists’ efforts at disturbing peace and harmony. Anita Roychoudhury’s landscapes with suggestive figures in space are like movements in a pastoral symphony while Wasim Kapoor’s profile of Jesus with a crown of thorn is commendable. Bipin Goswami’s matriarchal and patriarchal figures, sometimes caressing each other on a park bench reflect his hallmark. His recent wood carvings of two riders on an elephant and a prosperous looking middle aged woman sitting cross-legged capture the variety and vitality of his renderings. Ranjan Mukherjee’s drawings and particularly Sushanta Chacravarty’s paintings show great promise.

Faces, a group of eight painters, exhibited its works at the Samokal art gallery. Joy Goswami inaugurated and read out a poem comparing the differences of pictorial and poetical imagery. Six of the participants are working in applied art in leading newspaper houses. Among them Debabrata Chakrabarti and Subrata Chowdhury paint and exhibit their works regularly. This exhibition reminds one of Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle (1819), who wakes up from a slumber after 20 years to find everything changed. The language of painting and sculpture has changed with the rapid expansion of the art market. These artists have experimented and expressed themselves in simple terms and have been more than moderately successful.

Dipti Chakrabarti depicts a woman’s world. She paints a story as it reaches out into the regions of myth. Jayanta Ghosh has done his work with acrylic. But he has used digital print in one, and in another installed an abstraction of a deity in aluminium. Nirmalendu Mondal’s romantic tales of lonely and lovely women in a forest or concrete jungle enchants the viewer. Anup Ray’s paintings move from reality to areas of fantasy with ease. Debashis Deb’s mischievous cat constantly dreams of dead and live fish. Subrata Chowdhury’s painting of the taxidermy of a wild animal with a bald-headed mannequin leaning on it proves the days of his unsure beginning are over.