Monday, 30th October 2017

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A guide in search of a context - Veteran artist helps visitors at CIMA Gallery interpret an exhibition

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  • Published 28.12.09

In Search Of A Context, the ongoing exhibition at the CIMA Gallery, is an unusual display of interpretations with artists spanning periods, genres and sensibilities. And Saturday evening saw an unusual tour of the show guided by Shuvaprasanna, who offered his own interpretations of each display and invited the same from the audience.

In his introduction, the veteran artist spoke about how the art of one artist has often inspired another. “Each work of art has a context and a sutra, a link; there is a reference, a creative element that makes it more than what it is or what it seems like. That’s the difference between barnito chitra — descriptive illustration — and art, per se,” said Shuvaprasanna.

He spoke of the Mona Lisa as an example. “Mona Lisa isn’t just the painting of a lady just past her youth; it is not about her features. Her smile holds a mystery that transcends portraiture and will continue to arouse curiosity in years to come. It is the creative element that endows the painting with this mystery,” said the artist.

The analogy was with that of a pearl: every grain of sand doesn’t necessarily morph into a pearl, neither does every oyster hold one. “Each individual artist has a personal context, understanding, perception and artistic sensibility. It is thus interesting to go around this unique exhibition, witnessing the perception of contexts and their interpretations by each artist,” Shuvaprasanna said before leading the gathered audience around the display.

From the first work on display, Sougata Das’s take on Tagore’s Portrait of a Lady, titled Virtual Poem, the guide answered various queries from the audience, explaining how the young artist had “exaggerated, explained and created” on the innate “Rabindrik sensibility”, in the process forging his own sensibility around the masterpiece.

More interesting explanations followed. Jogen Chowdhury’s Hirak Rajar Deshe, reinterpreting the classic J. Swaminathan work Text-Detexted, finds echoes of agony in these troubled times, with photographs of violence and unrest dotting the diamond-shaped grid that surrounds the original. “It is a recreation of Swaminathan’s cubic world, and the pain, the unrest depicted in his lines are reflected in Jogenbabu’s reaction to our present predicament,” Shuvaprasanna said.

Twenty-two year old tribal artist Mayank Kumar Shyam’s Chiria (Bird), based on a work from Subodh Gupta’s seminal everyday objects series, threw up intriguing interpretations. “The contexts are completely different. They are completely internalised, and the sutras are personalised. Thus, the interpretation is all the more interesting,” said Shuvaprasanna.

The chiria, the bird, as a symbol of freedom from the urban clutter, perhaps? “Maybe,” smiled the tour guide, starting off what promises to be a series of walk-throughs at CIMA.