Thursday, September 19, 2013

Obituary - Remembering Chinmoy Pramanik and.. more

Fair Youth Beneath the Trees: Remembering Chinmoy Pramanik

JohnyML remembers departed artist Chinmoy Pramanik
`Then the sun cleared the hillock in a hurry, the warmth discovering him, the light dissuading him. But his calm, dark eyes sparkled as he summoned the neutral witness of time to pay attention to his last act as Gangiri Bhadra.''
                                                                                     -  Shoes of the Dead (Kota Neelima)
( Artist Chinmoy Pramanik)
Chinmoy Pramanik was not Gangiri Bhadra, the protagonist of Kota Neelima’s well researched novel based on the farmers’ suicide in India. But somewhere, his untimely demise brings the memories of Gangiri’s death. Gangiri fought for the rights of the farmers, whose deaths were written off as ‘natural’ ones. He had to sacrifice the welfare of his dead brother’s family and his own security for this fight. Finally, he too consumes pesticide and dies, in the process converting the village moneylenders and power mongers to a new religion called humanity. Chinmoy Pramanik did not commit suicide. He was undergoing treatment for leukaemia and when he passed away he was just thirty five years old. He was a talented sculptor; one of the artists in India who had not been affected by the illness of market boom.
As Kota Neelima observes in another part of her novel, an obituary means nothing. It does not say anything. The words remain hollow and the emotions drained. Death of a fellow being induces some kind of silence in us. We behave like rudalis. I could have avoided writing an obituary. But it is the curse of being a writer. I do not have any other device to show my grief. Hence, this obituary is an effort to look into the hollowness of my own words. Arundhati Roy, in her God of Small Things says that when a person dies, he leaves a hollow in the space in his own shape. I could see a tall, thin and smiling hollowness in the air; a smile seen through the thick beard comes out from that hollow reminding me of the Cheshire cat but devoid of its cynicism.
( Chinmoy Pramanik with his work)
I remember meeting him last at the Space Studio in Baroda. I had met him several times before that. Head hunters from the art scene had gone all over the place to track down unsuspecting but eager young artists and make them cannon fodders for the machine called art market. I heard his name for the first time from one such head hunter. I saw his works. Then I met him. He was a man with minimum words and a lot of smiles. His works were made out of small, carefully crafted wooden chips. Together they made a form, most of them looked like absent figures trying to manifest in the present. For those critics and curators who were the propagators of new urbanism and urbanology, his works were critiques of urban growth. They mockingly emulated urban growth. 
What I think today is something different. His works always grew vertically with a ridge running through its body. At Chintan Upadhyay’s now disputed Juhu apartment in Mumbai, he had kept a Chinmoy work, right there in the drawing room. During each visit I saw this work moved from one place to another; sometimes to his study room and sometimes to the bed room. The work stood silently, vertically, like a mummified form, imparting no terror but setting the visitor in a thinking mode. Chintan was behaving like a museum curator, never satisfied with the placement of the work. I remember touching the work and feeling the ups and downs. 
The last work I saw at the Space Studio in Baroda, exactly a year back, if I am not wrong, was in the shape of a coffin with his hallmark wooden chips. He was standing under a tree. He was ill, he knew and everyone near to him also knew about it. People like us got the news through the grapevine. I had generally asked about his health. He said then that he was improving. None could find any problem in his frail body as it always looked frail. Some are frail when they are in college, eating the unhealthy mess food. They regain shape or even assume new shapes when they achieve material prosperity out in the market. Chinmoy did not put on weight even after leaving Fine Arts Faculty, Baroda. He remained thin. But his eyes sparkled more than before. He was receiving the sun in his eyes. 
( Chinmoy Pramanik)
Did he know inside him about his impending death? I ask now for the simple reason that he was always making coffin like forms. The wooden chips appear before me like metastasizing germs of cancer beating his ability to fight for his life down. May be death of a young friend makes me observe things like this. It may be an illusion. Chinmoy was awarded with the Kashi Award and the IHC-Art India award in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Somehow, he could not continue the momentum of his works later due to the illness. One of his last works is a huge ear he carved out in earth. Like William Golding’s ‘Inheritors’, he too was trying to listen to the songs of the earth. He did his last act as Chinmoy Pramanik by inviting time to witness him with the ventilator in a Kolkata hospital. He did not take his sculptures or paintings with him. They will surface one day in some auction houses. Chinmoy Pramanik would live on now in figures and statistics. 
Let me kiss farewell to Chinmoy with the words of John Keats :
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
      Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
            Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal---yet, do not grieve;
      She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss
            Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair!


You’re Important show
( A work by Namrata Lodaya)
Nehru Centre Art Gallery, Mumbai presents a solo show of art works by artist Namrata Lodaya, titled, ‘You’re Important’. The show explores numerous themes like colourless desire, purity and innocence in mediums such as acrylic, oil, water colors on canvas.
This one of a kind exhibition gives a chance to the viewers to experience the joy of meeting his or her own self along the installation pathway created. There are seven uniquely cut-out designs highlighting every individual’s special place in the world. 
The creations stand incomplete without the involvement of the viewer and thus, the viewer is a part of the artwork. One of the installations named ‘Waiting’ is based on the journey to self realization, relating to how one generally ignores somebody who has been waiting to talk to them for a long time
The show is on view till 23rd of September 2013

Pursuit of Excellence
( A work at the show)
Third Eye Art Gallery,Bangalore presents a two person show titled, ‘Pursuit of Excellence’. 
The participating artists are Sanjoy Majumder and Sharmila Sahu. 

The artists’ styles border on abstract figurations with hints of romanticism and fantastical. The works are mostly rendered in acrylic and oils on canvas depict human forms in various dream like scenarios. In some of the works animal forms have been explored and brought together with heavy textural work giving depth to the work.

The colours are vibrant and fluid making this collection eye catching. 
The show is on view till 30th September 2013.

Subject of Death
( A work by Bhupen Khakhar)

Chemould Prescott, Mumbai presents a show as a homage to the artist Bhupen Khakhar and to the gallerist Kekoo Gandhy. 
The show is titled, ‘ Subject of Death’ and displays several paintings of Bhupen Khakhar i which he addresses his rage towards sudden mortality. Also displayed at the show are paintings on the same subject by artists, Mehlli Gobhai, Gargi Raina, Anju Dodiya and Sudhir Patwardhan among others.
The works pay homage to the legendary painter, and also to Kekoo Gandhy.

The show is on view till the 2nd of October 2013.

Sculpted Images

Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai presents a group show of sculptures by eminent artists. The show titled, ‘Sculpted Images’ displays the contemporary sculptures of eminent sculptors int he country today. The works displayed vary in mediums of the sculptures from metal like steel to fibre glass and fabric.

The participating artists are Chintan Upadhyay, El Antsui, Fariba Alam, Princess Pea, Ravinder Reddy, Sumedh Rajendran, Sunil Gawde, Tallur L N and Valay Shende.

The show is on view till the 12th of October 2013.

(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)

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