Review by Sarmistha Maiti
December 15, 2013


Conversation in Colour
Curated by Jogen Chowdhury
December 10, 2013 – January 10, 2014
Ganges Art, Kolkata

When an artist curates an exhibition instead of an art critic/theorist/historian or technically an art curator, the passion of both the artists presented and the artist curator in fact magnifies and the result is vibrant on the walls and floors of the gallery. The pursuit of happiness is indeed more because both the curator and the artists seek for utmost freedom and try to attain it in the most thriving way… so the work of art also reflect the same. And this sense of freedom is joyous in spirit and a process of knowing oneself better and deeper. Thus the prefatory note of this particular exhibition which I’m talking about begins with the famous Albert Camus’ saying, “A work of art is a confession.” – Thus what could be a better way to signify artistic freedom than this one!

The ongoing exhibition (10 December 2013 – 10 January 2014) at the Ganges Art Gallery in Kolkata titled “Conversation in Colour” being curated by Jogen Chowdhury and presenting ten artists from across the country has redefined the sense of freedom in artistic expression keeping the integral aspects of individual style, expression and execution pattern at par with the different trends of contemporary art and its conventional roots – and that’s the beauty of the show, the integrity of understanding in the artist-curator and the natural flow of the spirit of freedom among the artists. The show is being curated by an institution in himself and he brings together under the same roof, the paintings of ten gifted and accomplished artists - Amitava Das, Mona Rai, Adip Dutta, Tanmoy Samanta, Mahula Ghosh, Jayashree Chakravarty, Baiju Parthan, Manisha Gera Baswani, Ashim Purkayastha and Debnath Basu.

As one of the greatest artists of our times, the maestro he might well be referred as, Jogen Chowdhury has applied the same attributes in his artistic practices all throughout his career that “a true artist possesses magnanimity and farsightedness enough to let art blossom without boundaries of any sort.” Thus when the proposal was put before him to curate an exhibition unique of his kinds, he didn’t bind it in the tug-of-war of ‘isms’ in the reign of discourses promulgating concept, context, content, dialectics and so on and so forth. He made it lucid with his firm belief that art should not conform to any rule but should make its own rules. And hence beyond all-authority of the curator he has in fact led the artists to come from within themselves to set a dialogue with their work of art, their colours both as an internal journey within and an open discussion for a wide range of viewers in the external position, but not breeding an unnecessary ‘otherization’.

If Adip, Amitava, Jayshree, Ashim, Debnath, Mona and Jayshree have conversed mostly in the monochromatic shades of colours with finesse drawings or abstract motifs in the whirlpool of imagination, Tanmoy, Baiju and Manisha kept their canvas plane a semi-real metaphor of life and living in the cross-section of nature struggling with the politics of nurture and usage of opaque and chrome shades along with vibrant and primary colour patches in vogue. But if someone has truly conversed in colours telling a tale of ‘being’ and ‘becoming’, it is Mohula Ghosh who has executed the series of paintings in water colour, stitch on rice paper, titled “Promises” and “In the forest” and “Wounded Land” mark the essence of the curator’s concept by properly utilizing the spirit of freedom yet making an open statementwithout catering to any superfluous emotional crisis yet putting the crisis of the land and the state of being blatantly on your face. The strokes are soothing, the patches are free flowing but the impact is loud, strikes an innate pain and compels one to think and re-think.

The exhibition in totality does the same in spite of holding one such Romantic title, “Conversation in Colours”, the master curator, Jogen Chowdhury has in fact put up an amalgamation of works which stirs the sense of unbound freedom but echoes the crisis of our times… which we need to fight back and get over with.