The recognition and rewarding of excellence in Indian art — these have been the mainstays of the Centre of International Modern Art (CIMA), which was founded in Kolkata in 1993. But over the past seven years, since their inception in 2015, the triennial CIMA Awards have gone even further; they have consistently trained the spotlight on homegrown artistic prowess that would have otherwise remained hidden away in various corners of this vast country.
“In 2015, after 22 years of running CIMA, we felt the need to introspect. We were… overlooking the vast reservoir of talent going largely unnoticed in other pockets of the country,” said the director of CIMA, Rakhi Sarkar. “It was from this imperative that the idea of CIMA Awards was born.”
This year, the CIMA quest for excellence culminated in an exhibition of more than 180 shortlisted artworks by artists all over the country displayed across Gem Cinema and CIMA Gallery in Kolkata, and the CIMA Awards 2022, held at Taj Bengal on February 5. The ceremony witnessed the presence of stalwarts across the fields of art, cinema and academia, and honoured not only the winners but also felicitated established artists and individuals who have done monumental work in preserving and promoting Indian art.
(L-R) Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Suman Mukhopadhyay, Mimi Chakraborty, Alka Pande and Jayasri Burman at the CIMA Awards 2022
The mood for the evening, which was hosted by the veteran radio personality, Jimmy Tangree, was set with an enthralling recital by the table maestro, Bickram Ghosh. He was accompanied on the electric sitar by Abhisek Mallick and on the srikhol by Gopal Barman. The performance was followed by a screening of a series of videos chronicling the journey of CIMA over the years and the ethos behind the CIMA Awards.
A recital by Bickram Ghosh (tabla), Abhisek Mallick (electric sitar) and Gopal Barman (srikhol) at the awards
The director of CIMA, Rakhi Sarkar, delivers the welcome address
Tangree then invited the CIMA director, Rakhi Sarkar, onstage for a welcome note for the evening. “There can be no better day than today — Vasant Panchami — to recognise and award our most creative and most talented younger generation,” said Sarkar. After her welcome address, the audience was treated to a video of the veteran artist, Arpita Singh, who was the first stalwart of the evening to be felicitated. Since Singh, who was born in Bengal in 1937, was unable to travel to Kolkata amidst pandemic restrictions, Ela Dutta, a leading art critic and a close friend of Singh’s, accepted the felicitations on her behalf from Rakhi Sarkar and the chief administrator of CIMA, Pratiti Basu Sarkar. Singh, whose message was conveyed by Dutta, said, “I am honoured to receive this felicitation from a dynamic art organisation like CIMA. Ever since CIMA mounted my exhibition around two decades ago, I became close to all in the CIMA family.
Art critic Ela Dutta accepts a felicitation on behalf of artist Arpita Singh from Rakhi Sarkar, and the chief administrator of CIMA, Pratiti Basu Sarkar
Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, an art historian and director of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai, who has been instrumental in the remarkable restoration of the British-era structure, was felicitated next, after a video chronicling her incredible feat was screened for the audience. “CIMA is an institution builder; Rakhi Sarkar is a pioneer of institution-building outside the government frame in India,” said Mehta.
Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, director of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai, is felicitated by Rakhi Sarkar and Pratiti Basu Sarkar
With the completion of the felicitation programme began the Awards show, with 13 artists being honoured for their exemplary work. It commenced with Bengali film actor and Lok Sabha member, Mimi Chakraborty, presenting four Jury Awards to artists Jaladhar Naskar (Shelter—I), Joydeep Bhattacharjee (Que Sara, Sara), Satyaranjan Das (Phenomenon) and Subhankar Bag (After Thoughts). The Director’s Awards were presented by theatre and film director, Suman Mukhopadhyay, to Yogeesh P. Naik (Journey) and Shivi Yadav (Untitled).
Actor and Lok Sabha member, Mimi Chakraborty, gives the Jury Award to Jaladhar Naskar for his work, ‘Shelter—I’
Mimi Chakraborty gives the Jury Award to Joydeep Bhattacharjee for his work, ‘Que Sara, Sara’
Mimi Chakraborty gives the Jury Award to Satyaranjan Das for his work, ‘Phenomenon’
Mimi Chakraborty gives the Jury Award to Subhankar Bag for his work, ‘After Thoughts’
Theatre and film director, Suman Mukhopadhyay, gives the Director’s Award to Yogeesh P. Naik for his work, ‘Journey’
Suman Mukhopadhyay gives the Director’s Award to Shivi Yadav for her work, ‘Untitled’
The next set of Jury Awards, won by Asis Kumar Mahakhud (Virtual Song) and Ravi Morya (Untitled), were presented by artist and former dean of Rabindra Bharati University, Shreyasi Chatterjee, and art historian Alka Pande. The chancellor of Ashoka University, Rudrangshu Mukherjee, presented the Special Awards to Sayantan Samanta (Concrete Dinner) and Anirban Saha (Quarantine Note Book).
Artist Shreyasi Chatterjee (left) and art historian Alka Pande give the Jury Award to Asis Kumar Mahakhud for his work, ‘Virtual Song’
Shreyasi Chatterjee and Alka Pande give the Jury Award to Ravi Morya for his work, ‘Untitled’
The chancellor of Ashoka University, Rudrangshu Mukherjee, gives the Special Award to Sayantan Samanta for his work, ‘Concrete Dinner’
Rudrangshu Mukherjee gives the Special Award to Anirban Saha for his work, ‘Quarantine Note Book’
The artist, Jayasri Burman, presented the Paresh Maity Award to the second runner-up, Akshay Maiti, for his work, Structural Anatomy. The first runner-up position went to the artist of Kissa Goi, Sonal Varshneya, who could not be present to receive her award from the vice-chancellor of Presidency University, Anuradha Lohia.
Artist Jayasri Burman presents the Paresh Maity Award to the second runner-up, Akshay Maiti, for his work, ‘Structural Anatomy’
The evening, filled with the celebration of art and the meeting of minds, culminated with Rakhi Sarkar giving the CIMA Award to the winner Suman Chandra, for his stunning work, Black Grave 2
Rakhi Sarkar awards Suman Chandra, the winner of the CIMA Awards 2022, for his work, ‘Black Grave 2’
Pratiti Basu Sarkar ended the evening with a wonderful, humour-infused ‘thank you’ note to the CIMA family, the artists and the audience. “The more than 1,000 applicants for the CIMA Awards prove that art and culture are the bridges over human and political differences, and the chroniclers of our times. And to the 183 finalists who sent their works and brought their artworks from across India to Kolkata, overcoming pandemic-induced complications, CIMA gives a Vulcan salute. Live long and prosper!”
Pratiti Basu Sarkar delivers the ‘thank you’ note to the winners, guests, presenters and audience
The works of all 183 shortlisted artists are on display at Gem Cinema and CIMA Gallery till February 27 from 11am to 7pm every day