Tantric varieties come alive through art

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  • Published 19.11.11

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 18: Mystic elements and forms of tantra have come alive at the solo art exhibition by Suresh Balabantaray at Rashtriya Lalit Kala Akademi. Titled Tatwa, the exhibition presents the artist’s translation of the tantric concepts into images. He has also displayed his visualisation of well-known couplets by eminent medieval poets.

Balabantaray has dedicated a series to different elements of tantric patterns known as the Yantra. Showcasing a common pattern of a square box in each of the yantras, the artist has illustrated his view of the central design, experimenting with colours and shapes.

“In tantric practice, the different yantras are used on different occasions to achieve something. Here I have deviated from the traditional design of the central icon and tried to depict my perception,” said Balabantaray.

A custom official, Balabantaray’s inclination towards art, creativity and heritage are well known. A member of Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) he is also known as a poet, quiz master and dramatist.

His collection of 5,000 dolls that he has arranged in a miniature museum has also brought him appreciation. Balabantaray had also presented a solo art exhibition in 2007 on the theme of Dolls for adults.

In this second exhibition, some of his most striking works are those based on the tantric deity Brahmani. The colourful idol of the three-faced Goddess has found new forms in the acrylic paintings by Balabantaray. Featuring the deity in over ten works, the artist has created interesting backdrops and facial gestures in the ‘Brahmani’ series.

He has also presented various geometrical shapes to depict the three faces. The different designs of the crown on the three heads of the deity are also interesting.

Other tantric deities have also been depicted in the art works by Balabantaray. Using mixed media, the profile of the deity’s face has been created with lines in ink while a distinct combination of contrast shades forms the background. The mount of the deities have been represented with small toys placed under the face.

In each of the piece of art, the deity has been adorned with a piece of real ornament. To bring out the essence of Tatwa strongly, the artist has also installed a small sanctum where a vermilion smeared goddess has been offered flowers.

Couplets from poems predicting future, by Achyutananda, Jagannath Das, Radhu Das have been translated into art by Balabantaray.

A colourful network of cells, known as chromosome paintings, is also visible in these water colour and ink works that form a contemporary meaning, quite deviating from the couplet, when depicted by the artist.

“I have tried to convert the thought into artistic expression rather than trying to project the meaning of the couplets,” said Balabantaray.

“The paintings are attractive for the bright shades and forms of the tantric divas that the artist has presented. What is striking is that the painter is not trained but has created a charming ensemble of art,” said artist Satyabhama Majhi, a visitor. The exhibition will be on till November 22.