Unrest, protests and rapid social changes experienced by people are the subjects of an art exhibition on display at the Kolkata Centre for Creativity (KCC) till September 30.
The exhibition titled, Room Full of Mirrors by Probir Gupta is itself a metaphor as the works on display reflect the society we live in. The art show has been organised by Emami Art in collaboration with Anant Art.
Visitors looking at ‘Sacred Cows and Surrogate Mothers’Ashim Paul / My Kolkata
For the Kolkata-born artist who lives in Delhi, it is a homecoming of sorts. ‘’This is a very emotional homecoming for me that I am able to bring my works and showcase the same in Kolkata. It’s wonderful to share works with people in the city. It’s not the same as many other cities. It is special. Of course, probably because I am from here and speak the language,’’ Gupta said.
‘Indian Tempest After Nirbhaya and the Arab Spring’Ashim Paul / My Kolkata
The artist considers himself to be an activist. “Fifty per cent of my time is my personal practice, which is what you get to see here, and the other 50% is working with different kinds of communities and helping them with sustenance and other aids. For me, all that matters the most is the situations in which these people live and the changing societies etc. These are my basic concerns,” he said.
‘Spine’ gives the viewers a sense of a series of prosthetic legs but upon closer inspection each leg is differently designed.Ashim Paul / My Kolkata
As one enters the gallery, ‘The Raft: In Memory of Gericault and Noah’, a photograph of an African woman holding a European woman to chest, grabs eyeballs. The artist here is not concerned by colourism as much as he is concerned by the visual of absolute peace. ‘Separated by a Forest’ resonates with authority and power where the usage of popular calendar prints, bust of a tiger, photographs and inlaid Persian craftsmanship shows the turn of power.
‘The Underground Radio’ is a unique installation which takes one back to the times of political unrest where radio communication was a way of sending signals. This installation combines the principles of post-surrealism with layers of information and interpretation for the viewers to grasp.
‘Migrant Workers’ talks about the misery and woes felt by the thousands of laborers when the 2020 lockdown was declared.Ashim Paul / My Kolkata
His works on labour are interesting, too. While ‘Migrant Workers’ brings back memories of the labourers who traversed all odds to go back to their villages during the lockdown in 2020; ‘Sacred Cows and Surrogate Mothers’ talk about an existing yet lesser-known exploitative market. Gupta adds, “This [surrogate mothers] is an existing labour market completely undisclosed. Crores have been pumped into this. There are poor women who are approached to carry babies for others. This is extremely discriminatory as to what money they get finally to carry a baby for the nine months. I am looking at areas of discrimination, rejection, brutality, social injustice. I flow with the time.’’
‘Underground Radio’Ashim Paul / My Kolkata
Many of his works have been influenced by the social tremors in India and abroad. His work ‘Indian Tempest After Nirbhaya and the Arab Spring’ borders on the two waves which brought about fierce debates the world over. ‘Assault’ put together in the shape of a typewriter talks about the freedom of speech and expression and journalistic values. ‘Archive (The Wall and The Museum)’ makes the viewers ponder how often after civil unrest, riots or violence, the brick walls stand as mute testimony to the brutal happenings.
‘The Raft: In Memory of Gericault and Noah’Ashim Paul / My Kolkata
Gupta’s work borders on the people, labour and communities whose stories and woes need to be heard and he considers his art to be a medium to propagate social justice among them.