People have the right to express: Artist ShuvaprasannaNovember 12th, 2011 - 3:30 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) Veteran artist Shuvaprasanna, who is addressing changes in West Bengal politics with his art, says he does not sit in an ivory tower and connects to people by going beyond his medium.
“We all wanted change (in Bengal). I have collected people. I have addressed people about change. I don’t sit in an ivory turret,” Shuvaprasanna, 64, told IANS from Kolkata.
“There is life inside me; there is a dream inside me…it is from this language, the small word that films, stories and art are made,” he said.
“If you look at the history of art in Germany during the wars, you will come across a whole bunch of intellectual artists whose paintings were more powerful than any speech,” said Shuvaprasanna, who believes in assembling art from the immediate reality surrounding him.
“In a civilisation, people have the right to express…Art is only a different language through which I can express what I think. My art is a reflection of who I am, a philosophy,” the artist said.
He has generated curiosity and interest with a collection of paintings in an exposition, “Shuvaprasanna - Recent & Retrospective”, which is on at the Emami Chisel Art galleries in Kolkata Nov 8-Dec 8.
Two of his works that comment on the changed political scenario of West Bengal have been grabbing headlines. “Agenda 2011 For Right Decision” and “Red Terror” comment on the prevailing political scenario and the emerging power blocs in the state.
The exhibition, which has been drawing a full house, was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The exhibits include a selection of 142 of the artist’s old and new works.
“People have been talking about my work, ‘Agenda 2011 For Right Decision’. It is a painting of the politburo round table. In the middle of the table lies a body wrapped in red cloth. The body is tied with a golden ribbon. There are two framed photographs of Marxist symbols,” the artist said.
“The members sitting around the table are known faces - but they do not have their left hands. You have faces which kind of resemble (CPI-M leaders) Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat, Sitaram Yechury and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya who are trying to arrive at a right decision,” he added.
It was a large format work measuring 10 ft by 6 ft painted in charcoal, acrylic and oil.
Shuvaprasanna said: “We all are trying to say something. You have a boss who lays down guidelines. You can’t say everything. I am an artist; I can express what I learn and think.”
The artist, who was born in 1947 to a doctor, trained at the Indian College of Art in Kolkata. He began his career in art in the 1970s and was a member of the Calcutta Painters’ Group and Calcutta Society of Contemporary Painters in his initial years to sustain his vocation with group shows that “spread out the cost”.
“We were struggling then. But when I started going to Europe in 1974, I began to sell my work and went solo,” Shuvaprasanna said.
The city of Kolkata, its symbols, history and existential blues are at the heart of the aesthetic language of Shuvaprasanna.
“I began to paint faces, profiles and portraits at the age of five. My father was a doctor and the people who came to him were proud of my art. It gave me confidence. When I finished school, I joined the art college,” he said.
The artist uses a melange of imagery that uses the “creatures of the city to express its quality of life and people”. Owl, crows and animals recur in his works with cityscapes, personalities and the man-woman love.
“My progression as an artist was natural. When I was young, my art was about my home and my father’s patients. When I grew older and came out, it was about nature and people. When I entered a big sphere and life became complicated, my art spoke about society, politics, torture, love and hatred… that has been my journey,” Shuvaprasanna said.
The artist cannot imagine the city without crows. “I love Calcutta…Crows and Calcutta are synonymous. I love the owl because it is a wise creature with sharp eyes,” he said.
But the eternal love story between a man and a woman touches his heart as an artist.
“The world does not want politics, ‘bakwas’ (nonsense)…it wants a man and woman standing face to face expressing the rhythm of life…creation,” Shuvaprasanna said.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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