'GenNext' is the anniversary show of Aakriti Art Gallery. Young talents of the country are projected through this exhibition. The second 'Gen Next' is going to be held in October 2007 marking the beginning of the third year of the gallery, which has made a remarkable imprint in the art activity of Kolkata. Like other metropolises Kolkata too is vibrant with multifarious art activities. Innumerable exhibitions are going on regularly in the large number of galleries through out the city. In an article in 'Times of India' of August 5, 2007, titled 'When Art Mints Money' by Ratnottama Sengupta at least thirty art galleries active in Kolkata have been mentioned. Let us see the list: Mon Art, Nakshatra, CIMA, Kolkata Gallery, Kanvas Art, Silpi, Chitrakoot, Artspace, Angan, Samokal, Metropolitan, Kanishka, Rasa, K2, Katayun, GC Laha, Chemould, Birla Academy, Academy of Fine Arts, La Mere, Genesis, Seagull Art Centre, Idiyas, Exposure, Artists Circle, Charnock City, Gallery 88, Aakriti, Sanskriti, and Aakar Prakar. Three more can be added that has been omitted in the list: Sculpture Gallery, Gallery 79 and Vikalpa Art Shop. Most of the galleries are active through out the year. Innumerable exhibitions are going on. We will try to look at few of the very important shows held at Kolkata during the last one year between the two 'Gen Next'-s before coming to the activities of 'Aakriti'.
During October-November 2006 CIMA showed 81 graphic prints of famous German contemporary artist Georg Baselitz. 'Reality is the picture; it is definitely not in the picture'. This important assertion of the artist was exemplified in his works, which through figurations dissected reality to enter into its turmoil and sonorous beauty in the same fold. Two other shows of graphic prints in the Indian context also attracted attention. Gallery Rasa showed Ramendranath Chakraborty (1902 1955), one of the pioneers of Indian graphics just before the CIMA show from 17 September to 15 October, 2006. This well cureted show could present the artist's oeuvre with full justice and dignity. Another show of graphic art should also be mentioned, though it took place some time earlier than the period under review. Gallery 88 presented the graphics of five artists of 1940-s and 1960-s whose experiments on various aspects of print making unfolded deeper aesthetic qualities of this art form to convey important modernistic values. They were Somnath Hore, Krishna Reddy, Dipak Banerjee, Sanat Kar and Lalu Prasad Shaw.
Somnath Hore expired on 1 October 2006. The artist community and some section of general public responded spontaneously in paying homage to this great personality who could assimilate politics and art with deeper aesthetic insight. As a homage to the memory of the artist Gallery 88 presented an exhibition of his graphics and sculpture, which was to some extent retrospective in nature. We could see how his concept of 'wound' reverberating deeper empathy for the decaying life took form both in his graphics and sculptures.
Coming to the three-dimensional art, a show of Japanese Pottery at Gallery Rasa held between 7 and 14 January 2007 needs to be mentioned first. The unparallel ethereal beauty of the pieces moved Kolkata deeper at heart. Another unconventional visual experience was witnessing an international workshop organized by 'Khoj, Kolkata' at Baruipur on sight specific conceptual works. Artists from India, Bangladesh, Japan and other different European, American and African countries made installations and other conceptual works based on certain specific locations in a nineteenth century building. Two temporal levels were assimilated in their works.
The sculpture show 'Nirmiti' held at Akar Prakar Gallery from 13 to 28 November 2006 made a significant display of the works by 31 important sculptors who came to limelight from 1940-s to the new century. The evolution was judiciously highlighted. The sculptors were Sankho Choudhuri, Somnath Hore, Meera Mukherjee, Himmat Shah, Sarbari Roychoudhury, Nagji Patel, Vidyashankar Sthapati, Laxma Goud, Niranjan Pradhan, Partha Pratim Deb, P.R.Daroz, S.Nandagopal, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Aku Rajender Tiku, P.Ladi, Bimal Kundu, Jayasree Chakravarty, Alex Mathew, Ankit Patel, Dhruv Mistry, Shyamal Roy, Trupti Patel, Pankaj Panwar, Srinivas Reddy, Prasun Ghosh, Thomas Kovoor, S.Bala, Sourav Roychoudhury, Debanjan Roy and Adip Datta.
Famous sculptor Shankha Choudhury passed away on 28 August 2006. Seagull Art and Media Resource Centre presented an exhibition of his sculptures in May 2007. We could see some of his best works. Other two sculpture shows were held at Chitrakoot Gallery. The first was in December 2006, in which participants were Manik Talukdar, Sunil Kumar Das and Bimal Kundu. Second was held during July 2007 with the works of Bipin Goswami, Shankar Ghosh and Tapas Sarkar. Sculpture Gallery of Jadavpur also presented a few impressive sculpture shows. Solo shows of Debanjan Roy and Prasun Ghosh at Gandhar Gallery showed a new paradigm of contemporary sculpture.
There were innumerable painting exhibitions and impressive shows. A few of them can only be mentioned here. Solo exhibitions of Shakti Burman at Birla Academy (20 December to 3 January 07), Jatin Das titled 'Charged Figures' at CIMA (Feb 07), S.G. Basudev at Gallery 88 (2 17 Feb 07), Sanat Kar titled 'Homage to Kalighat Pats' at Sanskriti Gallery (7 17 Feb 07), Amitabha Sengupta titled 'Inscribed Surface Series' at Birla Academy (1 5 Nov 07), Animesh Nandi titled 'Journey' at Birla Academy (Jan 07), Tapas Konar at Akar Prakar (Jan 07), S.H. Raza's serigraphs and tapestries at Gallery K2, Jogen Chowdhury's drawings in response to Nilanjan Banerjee's poetry at Mon Art Gallery (Feb 07), Landscapes and Drawings of B.R. Panesar at Gallery K2 exemplified the enormously rich vision of our senior artists. Chitrakoot Gallery often presents the gems from our historical treasures. The show of Kalighat painting and Jamini Roy (June 07) was such an illuminating experience.
Among the group shows most important was the exhibition titled 'On the edge of Vision, new idioms in Indian and Italian contemporary art' curetted by National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi and held at Victoria Memorial during February 2007. Through paintings, sculptures and installations it showed that at present east and west express a similar sense of formal value through extension of their own cultures. The effect of cultural globalization was best expressed in this show. Birla Academy hosted a show titled 'Beyond Credos' featuring paintings of young Baroda artists curetted by Shivaji K Panikkar held between 22 February and 4 March, 2007. Young Baroda is trying to go beyond established Baroda. But can there be anything beyond credos? The question has been raised in the same exhibition catalogue in an article by Santhosh. S. titled 'Perhaps (nothing is) 'Beyond Credos'. New face of art always emerges from the root of ingrained tradition. Yet surpassing the traditional norms and creating new paradigm is always the motto of new generation. This paradigm shift has been very intriguing during the new century. The number of exhibitions held during last one year indicates this. We will mention only a few of them. CIMA in their show 'Concepts and Ideas 2006' (8 Nov 2 Dec 2006) projected the works of Subodh Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Mona Rai, Yusuf and Mohan Singhane. 'Reality Bytes' in the same gallery (27 March 12 April, 07) featured Debraj Goswami, Abir Karmakar and Uday Mandal. Gandhar Gallery's 'Spring', 'A Seasonal Dialogue' and 'Ecriture' were also impressive shows. Mon Art Gallery presented 'Confronting Globalization' (9 30 June 07) projecting paintings of Arun Bain, Barun Chowdhury, Debashis Manna, Debnath Basu, K Prasun Roy, Kaji Nasir, Rabin Roy, Rajib Chowdhury and Rathin Kanji. Chitrakoot presented 'Enigmatic Space' (3 12 Aug 07) through the works of Alok Sardar, Tarun Ghosh, Shubhabrata Nandi and Rabin Roy. Kanishka Gallery presented an exhibition of still life paintings titled 'Dynamic Stillness' (Aug 07) featuring works of fifteen young painters like Sourav Jana, Jayanta Roy, Santanu Maiti, Arun Bain, Anupam Das, Debashis Barui, Sekhar Baran Karmakar, Manas Saha, Sourav Chatterjee, Jayanta Pal, Manasjit Datta, Bhaskar Aditya, Pratap Chakraborty, Anusua Chakraborty and Sumana Ghosh. Samakal Gallery's 'Predicament of Man' (18 Nov 3 Dec 06) explored temporal reality in contemporary paintings through the works of senior and young artists.
These are only a glimpse of the total art activities in Kolkata during the period under review. In this context we will look at the exhibitions of Aakriti.
'GenNext I' held between 1 and 15 October 06 projected new talents from Eastern India. There were eight sculptors and nineteen painters who projected new idioms of contemporary art. Within last one year most of them have made remarkable imprint in contemporary art scenario. The sculptors were Akhil Chandra Das, Debanjan Roy, Jayanta Paul, Prasun Ghosh, Subrata Biswas, Sujit Kumar Karan, Sutanu Chatterjee, and Tapas Biswas. The painters were Barun Chowdhury, Birendra Pani, Biswajit Mukherjee, Debashis Barui, Debraj Goswami, Deepak Kundu, Dipendranath Paul, Farhad Hussain, Jayanta Kumar Paul, Jayanta Roy, Nobina Gupta, Rajesh Bhowmik, Rajesh Deb, Ritendra Roy, Sandip Daptari, Soumit Gupta, Soumen Das, Sourav Jana and Supam Adhikari.
'Folk in Modern', though presented before 'GenNext I' during September 2 17, 06 needs to be mentioned due to its importance in projecting the influence folk culture in various phases of our modernity. The artists presented were MF Husain, Paritosh Sen, KG Subramanyan, Satish Gujral, Haku Shah, Sanat Kar, Krishna Bandyopadhyay, Ramananda Bandyopadhyay, Jogen Chowdhury, Madhavi Parekh, Partha Pratim Deb, Biswapati Maiti, Swapna Sen, Asit Mandal, P.R. Narvekar, Tapas Konar, K. Muralidharan, Manoj Dutta, Manjari Chakravarti, Soumitra Kar, Shakila and Sourav Jana.
After 'GenNext I' Aakriti presented a solo show of Partha Pratim Deb (9 29 November 06). Deb is a prolific and versatile artist who came to lime light during 1970-s. He works in various mediums, diverse forms and techniques. Taking the queue from popular art he creates a new paradigm of modernity through wit and sarcasm deviating substantially from the known model of sixties. He has, therefore, pioneered a new formal structure from which the new generation of 1990-s was inspired. The show could highlight Deb's talent with considerable success.
During January 20 31, 2007 the gallery presented a show of abstract paintings, titled 'On Their Own'. It featured the development of abstraction in our modernity from forties to nineties. The participating artists were M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, Ram Kumar, Amitabha Das, Mona Rai, Sunil De, Amitabha Dhar, Samindranath Majumdar, Partha Shaw and Yogendra Tripathi.
During February (17- 28) two exhibitions continued simultaneously. In their sculpture gallery Gopal Prasad Mondal showed his sculptures. Title of the show was 'In Search of Micro to Macro Organic Sculpture'. Mondal tries to infuse his forms with a philosophical content. Organic forms resurrect into ideas.
The other was a curetted show of painting, titled: 'Indigenous Modernity Various Trends'. The show was dedicated to the memory of Bikash Bhattacharjee. It was sad that Bikash passed away on 18 December 2006. It should be mentioned here, on the same day another important stalwart of Indian art, Satyen Ghosal also expired. In this exhibition there were some senior artists like Paritosh Sen, Dhirendra Nath Brahma and Reba Hore. All other artists belonged to the generation of sixties. They were B.R. Panesar, Amitabha Banerjee, Shanu Lahiri, Kartick Chandra Pyne, Sailen Mitra, Prakash Karmakar, Sanat Kar, Amal Nath Chakladar, Dhiraj Chowdhury, Dipak Banerjee, Ganesh Haloi, Suhas Roy, Barun Roy, and Ganesh Pyne. Anita Roy Chowdhury, Jogen Chowdhury and Suchibrata Deb. The show therefore, projected evolution of modernity brought about by the artists from forties to sixties.
The next show mounted from 7 to 17 April 2007 was titled 'Agony and Ecstasy'. It was an exhibition of figurative paintings by the artists of West Bengal. The artists were: Aditya Basak, Ashok Mallick, Asit Mandal, Chhatrapati Dutta, Manoj Mitra, Paresh Maity, Partha Pratim Deb, Prasenjit Sengupta, Sekhar Roy, Sheikh Sahajahan and Tapas Konar. All the artists through figuration dealt with various aspects of man, entered deeper into his existence and analyzed what time or this civilization has made of man. Some artists presented naturalistically, some distorted the figures to enter deeper into it. The aesthetic of transformation posited the philosophy, unique to each one.
From May 5th- 15th two exhibitions cureted by Art Critic Prasanta Daw continued simultaneously. The first was 'Landscape in Modern Painting', and the second: 'Glimpses of Modern Sculpture of Bengal'. The first show traced the evolution of landscape in our modern era. It started with Deviprasad Roychowdhury and continued with evolution of landscapes of neo-Indian school artists like Dhirendra Krishna Deb Barman, Purna Chandra Chakraborty, who of course assimilated some essence of naturalistic mode, Prasanta Roy and Indra Dugar. Nirmal Datta, Ramananda Bandyopadhyay and Sukti Subhra Pradhan showed further development of the same indigenous trend. For the artists of '40s the mode of depicting nature was different. The works of Gopal Ghosh and Satyen Ghosal exemplify this. Among the artists of '60s there were B.R. Panesar, Kartick Chandra Pyne, Prakash Karmakar, Paramjit Singh, Jayanta Chakraborty, Anita Roy Chowdhury, Shyamasri Basu and Manu Parekh. The artists of next generation were Ramlal Dhar, Biraj Kumar Paul, Malay Chandan Saha, Sohini Dhar, Samindranath Mazumdar and Arindam Chatterjee. In the last two artists the elements of nature were very minimal. Nature was totally transformed into abstract.
The sculpture show traced the development of sculpture mainly from the decade of 1960s to the present day. Sunil Kumar Paul was the only artist to represent the decade of forties. Sixties was represented by Raghunath Singha, Madhab Bhattacharya, Sarbari Roy Chowdhury, Uma Siddhanta, Bipin Goswami, Sankar Ghosh, Debabrata Chakraborty, Niranjan Pradhan and Sushen Ghosh. Among the artists of seventies there were Biman Bihari Das, Dilip Saha, Manik Talukdar, Anit Ghosh, Tarak Garai, Janak Jhankar Narzary and Gopal Prasad Mondal. Sushen Ghosh and Narzary were very original in their expression. Their non-naturalistic forms enter deeper into essence of contemplative beauty and show a new way of liberation from the bindings of narrative style of some of their contemporaries. The trends of 1980-s were represented by Sunil Kumar Das, Tapas Sarkar, Bimal Kundu, Shyamal Roy and Ram Kumar Manna. The younger generation of 1990-s works with a different formal concept and sensibility. The works of Pankaj Panwar, Sandip Chkraborty, Sunanda Das, Tapan Kumar Das and Sutanu Chatterjee are very engrossing in this new search.
The year 2007 is the birth centenary year of Gobardhan Ash. To celebrate it and remember the artist Aakriti Art Gallery presented a representative show of his paintings. Ash entered Government School of Art as a student in 1926. Learnt there for four years but did not complete the course. In 1932 he went to Madras to learn from Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury and continued for one year only. He had a dissatisfaction about the system of art teaching. He had a rebellion against the contemporary art trends. This rebellion is expressed in his formation of the group 'Art Rebel Centre' in 1933. Later in 1950 he joined 'Calcutta Group'. In his art he tried an assimilation of western modernistic mode with Indian folk. In this exhibition we have seen various traits of this assimilation. The famine of 1943 had a strong impact in the art of their generation. In this show there were some engrossing pieces where the reality of famine was represented.
Next show held in August (12 to 22) titled 'Freedom: What it means to me' was the celebration of sixty years of Indian independence. It has been cureted by Pranabranjan Roy. The show was presented with an intention to see, as noted in the curatorial note, 'on completion of the sixtieth year of Indian independence … to what extent a desire for freedom and feeling for denial of freedom still motivate the painters and sculptors of the two generation of artists born since 15th August 1947'. It was enchanting to see how the young artists dissect reality through their new concept and formal structure.
September presents 'Young Contemporaries, 2007'. The famous artist Jogen Chowdhury has selected talented young artists for the show. We can see how engrossing and bounteous the future of our art is.
In this short survey it has been revealed that in the art activity of Kolkata 'Aakriti''s contribution is very significant. It highlights the principal trends of our art and projects the young talents. The patronization has helped to create an enlightened art environment.
-- Mrinal Ghosh