A myriad reflections
It's a pleasant surprise to see that Reflection of Another Day or RAD has survived a quarter century and, going by its recent Annual at Birla Academy, has even thrived. Not only were there 30 participants - quite a number for a group, actually- but they've largely kept up satisfying standards as well.
Take the abstractionists, for example. Asim Paul builds a series of patterns that have architectonic heft and also remind you of linguistic signs as in Franz Kline. Biswa Basu's matte, grainy blocks and tangled scribbles teeter on an edgy balance. Biswajit Mukherjee presents a younger, breezier, vivacious avatar of a Haloi landscape. Sudhangshu Bandopadhyay melds colours well, in broad strokes and little squiggles. And the long scrolls of Ranajit Adhikary, who probably layers newspaper strips into a thick ground that's spattered and smudged with black paint (ink?), nudge several readings: of fake news, censorship, street rage.
Two artists share a thematic affinity with Adhikary: Sanatan Dinda's photographic depiction of a pizza as a searing metaphor for news - however cataclysmic - as appetizing bites at dinner; and Pushpen Roy, who's as concerned for nature as he's caustic about blasé news-mongers immune to disturbing sights such as a dead whale. Nature is what Subrata Saha and Tapas Majumder brood over as well, as they envision a dystopian future where the land is depleted and treeless, the air smoky and toxic and the clouds ominously dark.
There's a controlled anxiety in Chandra Bhattacherjee's spare woodcut. Sumantra Mukherjee's bedcover painting, with its woodcut look and multiple references, is another work to note. Probal Boral's celebration of an elderly woman's ungainly body, Manash Saha's Popish wit, and Timir Brahma, who seems to spoof the strident nationalism of the day, hold the viewer's attention too.
The installations and sculptures reflect thought and effort. There are wry comments from Rathin Dey, on power hierarchies; Debajit Chakraborty, on consumerism with quick-fix panaceas in cosmetics tubes; and Soumen Das, on (State?) violence. Dipankar Karmakar's stoneware, with its amusing folk forms, and Barun Pramanik's archly erotic image in bronze deserve mention. Partha Roy could be as interesting if his earnestness were replaced by irony.