Review by Palakshi Dass
September 15, 2017


Soul of the Wide Walls
Jogen Chowdhury, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Paresh Maity, Samir Mondal, Avijit Dutta
July 22-August 31, 2017
Kalakriti Art Gallery, Hyderabad

The ongoing show of Kalakriti Art Gallery, Hyderabad, brings the charm of watercolor paintings by the five eminentcontemporary Indian artists, who are from Bengal. The exhibition showcases21 paintings of the five masterpainters–Jogen Chowdhury, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Paresh Maity, Samir Mondal and Avijit Dutta.It was an exhilarating experience to see their works from 1957 to 2016 under the single roof,which also show the passion and deep involvement towards the artistry they have achieved from their early days.

After the establishment of government art colleges during the British period, watercolor became popular in rest of India. But in Bengal, artists were accustomed to this medium from the time of Moghul time. The use of watercolour kept changing through the time and many experiments emerged. In early 20th century, Abanindranath Tagore introduced a new technique called wash, improvising from watercolor medium and later on the technique was followed by many artists of Bengal school for several years. In the last few decades, artists have been continuously exploring new styles and techniques of it. The works in this exhibition display the diverse style and techniques of watercolor, practiced by the artists of contemporary Bengal.

Jogen Chowdhury’s 11 paintings, covers almost five decades of his artistic journey. He is known for his signature style of drawings, but his experiments with different mediums, especially watercolor, proves that he is a master at this craft. In this exhibition, his two sets of watercolor landscapes from 1957and 1959 were displayed from the gallery’s collection, depicting scenes of rural Bengal and its people, which are very rustic in nature. Chowdhury proves mastery in simple manner, using the soft color and fine brush strokes making the figures alive in small rectangle sized paper.

Sanjay Bhattacharya also showed two of his early works, when he was a student of Government Art College, Kolkata, along with his recent works. His love for old streets of Kolkata, old architectural space and furniture rare pictorial elements, which are depicted in a realistic style similar to the old photographic images. His proficiency in the use of monochrome colors in a rhythmic gesture to balance the light and dark shades, create a sensitive impression.

Paresh Maity, known for his magnificent watercolor paintings in scale and technique, has been working in this medium for last 30 years. Maity says watercolor is his heart and soul. With the dazzling bright primary colors, he creates a supernatural ambience in his painting where the sky blends with the water and water to the shore creating beautiful harmony.

Samir Mondol’s dexterity in portrait painting with his watercolor stokes is unique and breathtaking. Flowers and butterflies pop up as significant elements of his portraitures showing the serenity and beauty of nature. In this exhibition, Mondol paints two portraits of Buddha showing his grip over the watercolour medium and his strokes resemble l similar to the ones executed using oil paint. He also presents two other portraits – Shakti I and Shakti II – from his Women in Nature series.

Avijit Dutta’s works bring a nostalgic feeling in this exhibition. His explores his search for past life through his works. The classical lifestyle, people, dress, objects fascinates him to recreate the ambience again where the artist endeavors to bring the forgotten figures of his family to the present time. The title of his work My Private Museum justifies his whole idea in single entity, where he uses the hazy shabby yellowish background with the decorative frames. In his painting Dutta uses the multiple layers of watercolor similar as the tempera technique.

The show is successful in presenting five eminent artists who primarily work in one medium – but in different style and techniques – in one platform.