By Anindya Kanti Biswas & Uddalok Pal
Birla Academy of Arts and culture recently held an unique exhibition of paintings from 2nd to 7th of August 2011. The artists formed together a group named “Neo-gene: contemporary Artists Manipur” and they have displayed 45 works of theirs in the show. The exhibition has focus on the current trends of visual arts movements of the contemporary times. The techniques, styles and concepts of the North East, particularly the artists of Manipur have exposed their talents to the National Mainstream through this exposition. On the right hand side of the entrance nine works of Ch. Lalil Singh has been displayed. Amongst them the works entitled ‘Two Dancers’, ‘ Doll Seller’, ‘under one umbrella’, ‘Gopis’, and ‘Waiting’ are remarkable. The work titled as ‘Gopis’ has been divided in two halves; in the technical terminology this is known as ‘Dyptich’ Amongst the for divisions of Manipuri dancing Lalit has depicted the ‘Raas Lila’ format in this presentation. Lalit’s brush moves like a whirlwind on the canvas. Having worked over a decade with this technique now comes to him spontaneously in a effort less manner; such is his mastering of the style. He shows a new approach to the medium by using opaque and transparent colours. Lalit observes minute details of human life especially the dances and other activities (like the daily market scenario) and others.
On the left hand side G. Gandumpu has displayed his eight paintings. The only artist belonging to the Kabui Naga community gives ample proof of his traditional lineage in the presentation of his works. A perfectionist regarding technique (which can said to be bordering almost near obsession) his portrayal of the traditional dance movement of the men and woman of his community is unique and eye-catching. He is more attuned towards ‘capturing the motion’ rather than the figurative definitiveness-infact he has sacrificed the latter aspect in order to do full justice to the former. One is bound to be surprised at the prolific case with which he plays with statuesque dynamicity of this brilliant dance form. Of course, being a member of the community, he understands the psyche of it in a perfect manner. However, a small point keeps on nagging; had the artist utilized and explored the medium of ‘oil’ on canvas in these portrayals he perhaps would’ve been able to bring out more out of such vivacious effervescence typical to the dance form. If it has been possible to bring out the beauty of the young female faces-why not same could’ve been done to the male and female forms in total? We are all aware of the physical allure of the dancers (both male and female) in such communities. Gandumpu’s hometown in Manipur are full of different dance styles belonging to the communities of Kabui, Kuki and so on. His works reflects his affection for them. Most probably memories and experiences shared with this dance activities have gradually become the core and content of his work.
The third artists in this group is Robin Wahengbam who has participated his four of his works. Three of them have been done in graphics medium (Etching, Lithograph and Wood cut process) titled as ‘Untitled’. The fourth work which is done in acrylic medium on the surface of canvas is depict a traditional ‘Thang-Ta’ movement where ‘Ta’ movement. The usage of contrasting vermilion and chrome yellow creates a magnificent sharpness. To a certain degree, despite its heroic Tandava stance it creates a soothing effect for the eye. It should be mentioned in this review that Robin is a former student of Graphics department of Kala-bhavan of Santiniketan, his handling of the different techniques of this medium speaks of ease borne out of meticulous and dedicated hard work.
The fourth participants of this show is Ksh. Sarat Singh out of his nine recent works-five have been done with acrylic on canvas. Initially Sarat’s works were realistic but soon he started experimenting with form and sensitive brush strokes. Water colour was his preferred medium during his Santiniketan days but now he handles acrylics with the same case. Individualistic portraits has been mainly featured by him. His technical brilliance regarding his drawings is apparent. Had it been not so, his works (in wood cut graphics) would not have been belied such wonderful interplay of light & shadow which is called in art–terms as ‘Chiaroscuro’.
Leishangthem Ishwor is the fifth participants who has exhibited only two of his recent works. His portrayal of Irom Chanu Sharmila’s long struggle regarding her “fast unto death” against the “Armed Forces Special Power Act” and other activities of India Government touches a raw point. The viewer is left speechless. The use of light yellow, vermilion and black creates an illusionist. The whole presentation gives the spectator a mystic feeling. The addition of the symbolic elements in his compositions has given the whole presentation a different kind of dimension. His composition entitled as “Hungry for peace I” has been depicted in a ‘diptych’ pattern.
The sixth participants of this show is M. Thomas Singh. He has exhibited nine of his recent works which includes graphics and paintings. He has used pastel and acrylic for his composition on canvas titled in ‘Nightmare of Nature I, III, & V’ viewers get to the cityscapes where a brilliant simultaneous intermingling of the ‘birds-eye-view’ and the ‘general aerial view’ perspectives has been done. Chiaroscuro effects are the great features of Thomas’s art work. Depth as well as drama has been skillfully projected. His brush strokes are significantly shaped and create magical fantasy. Simply he can create magical fusion with his rendering of brush strokes. His works look to the extremes the lyrical immersion of nature. Immediacy of the vision is one of Thomas’s culminating point of his creations which leads to a kind of ‘mysticism of light’. He has already explored the enigmatic magic of colour with his fluid, shadowy brush strokes. His use of colour effectively conveys the environment of the alien world.
Our fellow artists from the North-Eastern region have started very recently to come out and present themselves the contemporary mainstream. We would love to have their works exhibited more. It is a pity that we know very less about them and their brilliant presentation.
In conclusion it can be definitely be stated that this exhibition titled “Four Moods” has touched the visual arts enthusiasts of Kolkata. It has definitely made a point. All the members of this exhibition has viewed and experienced a lot. Some of them are in their early forties – others moving of their fifties-they have been much since their younger days. Their reflective moods and inner turmoil’s leaves us yearning for more.