Review by Sarmistha Maiti
August 12, 2012


The Circles
Ruma Samanta, Ram Prasad Halder, Sreeparna Bhattacharya, Sreeparna Roy, Subhankar Biswas, Saumen Das and Shibram Das
July 11-17, 2012
Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata

If you walk down the 2 Cathedral Road and enter the premises of the Academy of Fine Arts, one can see innumerable artworks hanging on the walls, placed on the pedestals and floor in the different galleries of this heritage hub of art and culture in the City of Joy round the year. Throughout the year, artists of different age groups, both professional and upcoming, hire this gallery and showcase their artworks. There was a time when entire Calcutta would vow upon its sense of aesthetics and art and take pride on its only art hub, the Academy of Fine Arts. Things are not the same now. With globalisation and the advent of private galleries in the art scenario of this metropolitan in the last 15 years, the perspective of art at every level, from the creator till the collector has undergone a transformation. And now though the Academy of Fine Arts still remains booked throughout the year, there are hardly any exhibitions to excite serious art enthusiasts. But exceptional is always possible and if it comes from fresh hands, it is worth patting their back and bucking them up with the spirit that the show must go on…

Recently I came across a group show in the North Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts by a bunch of budding artists in their 20s, just stepped out of their post-graduate college and trying to build up a niche for themselves in the professional art world. As a one-liner I would only say, it was a serious exhibition with optimum efforts put in by these young creators. Innovation-wise they were more inclined towards conventions and mediums used were mostly the traditional ones, but at the level of execution, they were able to give certain fresh elements, ideas and forms which were quite interesting. The Circles – the group had called their show by this name and this team of six painters and one sculptor kept one common item in each of their works and that was a ‘circle’ or a circular form.

Ruma Samanta, Ram Prasad Halder, Sreeparna Bhattacharya, Sreeparna Roy, Subhankar Biswas, Saumen Das and Shibram Das – the participants of this exhibition are all pass-out of the Government College of Art & Craft, Kolkata which is most acclaimed for its academic skills. These artists too were no exceptional, but it was not just skill or the capability to give a rise to a look-beautiful quality or to be more appropriate a ‘realistic’ approach, these artists chose to apply the same amount of skill to express their very own thoughts. Each of them had chosen a subject of their liking to work on but the common circle remained unique and unaltered in every work, though depicted in various patterns. In Ruma Samanta’s “The Monk” in acrylic on board, the circle was used as a flow of inner conscience, Ram Prasad used the same form in tempera style delving into a miniature-style embroidery pattern on the base of the picture plane, Saumen Das kept it very open and direct as Circle breaks, Circle expands in his work in acrylic on wood.

Sreeparna Bhattacharya’s attempt in mixed media on board largely dealt with the concept “Now & Then” where the mutation of being as a part of natural evolution collided with changes that are brought out through coercive mechanism as an exercise of hegemonic discourse, overruling one’s own unique identity. Circles as microscopic part of an organism’s body were merged on the backdrop of the picture plane all throughout in her works. Subhankar Biswas in his miniature sized works of 8.5” x 8.5” in mixed media; mostly sketches displayed in a clustered tried to discover the journey of human procreation from love till death in a monochromatic circular manner and minimalist pattern.

But the show-stopper of this exhibition was Sreeparna Roy’s wash paintings and Shibram Das’s sculptures in mixed media. After a long time I’ve come across such a brilliant exposition through wash medium on paper contouring such minimal elements like the unification of two eye balls with soothing natural tones bearing optimum surreal quality and depicting the epitome of ‘love’ – the fine thread of bonding that cannot divide the two eyes, the two selves that are ‘one’. Sreeparna Roy’s execution was not only unique and novel but also very must conceptual and contemporary yet bearing the traditional tenets of wash painting that is so much a part of the Bengal School of Art in India.

Last but not the least is of course Shibram Das’s sculptures which borne a fusion of traditional structure as well as installation quality and an experimentation with the mediums. But that was the look or the visual of the works. The best part was the thought he has meticulously tried to generate by using electrical gadgets, wooden coffin, a phallic symbol ceramic structure as a dead log inside the coffin that could be nuclear arms as well – these were left open for the viewers to observe, feel and analyze. He titled his works as “Unititled” that he claimed to be a deliberate choice of not binding his works to certain limits, yet my suggestion would be to title them as a part conceptual discourse that would be far more interesting and exciting for the viewers to get into the core of the thought process instead of reflecting the creator’s incapability to think of an appropriate name for his own creations. In fact ‘untitled’ is quite vague when the works are so much content based which Shibram too has aptly dealt with.

This exhibition as a whole did entice me after a long time as a all-encompassing show in the premises of the Academy of Fine Arts and I really felt that I should pen my thoughts and write this review for this fresh and upcoming artists for their endeavour and efforts. Once again kudos to all and hope to see much better executions and experiments in the years to come from the same team!

A work by Ruma Samanta

A work by Subhankar Biswas

A work by Saumen Das

A work by Sreeparna Roy