Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Present-day Art Trend Colours of Orissa, An article by Kasturi Ray @ The New Indian Express

Krishna, in azure blue, as the commander with the timeless conch in one hand and the strength of horses and wheels in the background, summarised power. One among a series of paintings on Krishna by Baladev Moharatha, this one arrests attention at first glance. The theme, composition and concept have all the elements of a contemporary art piece that is rooted in tradition as much as in modernity. Dictated to by an inner voice, Moharatha put his creative genius into art and the piece speaks a thousand stories. Like Moharatha, there are many artists in Orissa and beyond who have given their creations their individual identity and are making that the contemporary trend. But the state has also been witness to a negative trend where many artists resort to imitation and follow the diktats of art galleries in their craze for overnight success. A state that traces its art history to traditional stone craft, temple murals, palmleaf manuscript paintings, Osakothi folk paintings and patta and palm leaf engravings and to date takes pride in it, had, at one point in time, seen the effects of the Bengal School of Art emerging as a major trend with the establishment of the Khallikote Art College in 1959.

It was in the 1960s that traces of modernism sprouted in some parts, largely due to the colonial influence. The trend continued until the 1990s after which the global contemporary style and the pan-Indian style took over most canvases. All these influences came together in diverse, eclectic, yet sustaining ways to shape the contemporary art scene of the state.While Mukunda Moharana, Raghunath Prusty, Shatrughna Karan and Dharinadhara shaped the traditional arts scene through their palm leaf engravings and patta paintings, it was Sarat Chandra Debo, Ananta Panda, Bipra Mohanty, D N Rao, Gopal Kanungo, Bipin Bihari Choudhury, Muralidhar Tali and Bimbadhar Varma who made the modern art scene extremely sprightly through paintings based on surrealism or impressionism. But it seems all is not well in the present day art scenario, with imitation finding its way into art more than originality; with the Internet proving an idea bank instead of personal experience and with financial considerations taking precedence over involvement and commitment.

Modern contemporary art brought with it a lot of scope for experimentation and provided tremendous liberty to artists. Some who did not find the state the right place to give vent to their creative urges left in search of greener pastures. But there were many veterans like Dinanath Pathy, Ramahari Jena, Baladev Moharatha and Siba Panigrahi and others who felt contemporaneity did not necessarily need an artist to sever ties with his own surroundings. “Moving out could give you a broader viewership since there are galleries galore in metros but it is the way you conceive of a subject and its analysis in detail that gives an artist’s creation its relevance. These days, Oriya artists are doing good jobs in New Delhi and their art is considered global now due to their reach but not many of them are thorough in the literary and artistic traditions of their state to give that traditional touch to their creations,” says Moharatha. To give a piece of art its Oriya identity it is imperative for an artist to know its history, art and culture and then translate it into art,” adds Moharatha.

For example, contemporary artist Jagannath Panda’s style of painting is in sync with the immediate surroundings of his home state Orissa and New Delhi, the city where he now lives. In fact, the artist whose paintings are mostly landscape-oriented, tends to draw energy from wherever he locates himself. In Panda’s work a routine event or any commonplace object is imprinted with a symbolic stature that is oriented to represent collective aspirations. He collates the best of both Western minimalist features, as well as Orissa’s folk art elements. “It’s very important for an artist to develop his or her individuality. For this, the artist needs to look inwards as much as he looks outwards and there is no point imitating someone. I would much rather be inspired by someone or some piece of creation,” says Panda. A piece of art can appeal if it is highly contemporary in style with strands of tradition ingrained in it, he adds.

Another Oriya artist, Anup Chand, also based in New Delhi, who normally paints on issues affecting society such as pollution, concrete jungles and tigers, feels the artists of Orissa are way ahead of their contemporaries in the country and abroad because of their typical Oriya touch in even the modern paintings. “Somewhere there will be a tinge which will identify an Oriya artist and his roots. And the best examples are Jagannath Panda, Alok Bal and Birendra Pani who are world renowned,” Chand adds. Chand’s pieces have glimpses of pattachitra in their decorative and simplified form and his motifs include birds, bees, animals and buildings.

Dinanath Pathy, an artist, writer and art historian explains the present trend: “These days, most paintings look alike. That is because saleability is the buzzword. Many artists settling outside follow what the galleries ask them to do as per the present demand. This stands for all artists irrespective of the fact that they belong to a particular state. So where is the scope for an artist’s own creativity? Art currently is more about going by what the stakeholders want,” says Pathy who is credited with painting innumerable masterpieces. “I call it the Bollywood syndrome,” he adds explaining that artists now want to be Page 3 celebrities. That keeps them away from painting based on their instinct backed by experience and knowledge.

However, most veterans, impervious to this state of affairs feel the present phase is transient. If Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) survived because his heart was in art, even the present-day wavering Oriya artists will return to their roots in their paintings soon. And that will redefine the present-day art trend.

Kasturi Ray @ The New Indian Express


The Ashok Art Gallery is internationally known for one of its most important holdings: more than 2000 major works by the world's most significant Artists.Over the past years, as Ashok Art Gallery has become a major centre for contemporary visual art, the Gallery has built a strong collection of contemporary work of different artists, we became a sponsor of the STANDUP-SPEAKOUT Artshow, Organized by Art Of Living Foundation and United Nations.Organized an International Contenmporary Art Exhibition including artists from USA, The Nederlands, Pakistan and India.We have also participated at Art Expo India 2008, 09 Mumbai and India Art Summit 2008 New Delhi.

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