A mixed bag of art

The walls of the galleries at Academy of Fine Arts (AFA) are covered with the work of the better-known artists of Kolkata. The annual Charukala Utsav, it must be admitted, is an effective group exhibition. However, what was really unfortunate is that the exhibition opened without the details of the artists and one had to decipher even names from signatures — if at all possible. Considering how many talented artists there are in the state, it’s a pity that organisers forgot to acknowledge.

Among the works at AFA, there were two that I cannot seem to get out of my mind. The first is an image of a sleeping man partially covered in a white sheet. Floating and hovering are computer icons that look rather like a swarm of bees buzzing around. The artist’s keen sense of humour can be seen in the accompanying note, “work in progress for a better tomorrow”. The second was a large canvas showing an elephant covered in a white sheet, with a dark patch where his head should have been. Above him was a skull with two tusks, which four greedy hands were reaching out to grasp. The artist’s signature read ‘Jikian 2013’ and we can surmise that this probably is the artist’s name. What was quite apparent was that the surreal theme attracted attention: there were four other viewers absorbed in this rather striking work of art.

Outside, on spacious grounds around the Rabindra Sadan, young artists exhibited in small kiosks. On offer are paintings, sculptures and small installations. Figurative subjects appear to be the most popular among artists, but landscapes seemed to attract more viewers. One could hear ridiculously low prices being quoted. In these trying times, one fervently hopes that the works will find buyers — even a low price is better than no sale.

(The writer is an author and a former art gallery owner)

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