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Kalighat Paintings: A review

Partha Sanyal

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 “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. Remembering the quote of Leonardo da Vinci when I visited the exhibition at Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH), Kolkata to see collection of “Kalighat Paintings” from Victoria & Albert (V & A) Museum, London and VMH in the year 2011 and wondered how some simple brush strokes of water colour have given birth to these master pieces, the elegant Bengali folk arts. I have visited several museums after that to get the inherent taste of this gracious art and found a great zeal to write a review with the knowledge that I have gathered these days.

Introduction

Kalighat Paintings refer to the class of paintings and drawings on hand-made or more usually on machine-made paper produced by a group of artists called ‘Patuas’ in the neighbourhood of the famous Kali temple at Kalighat in between 19th and earlier 20th Century.

A N Sarkar & C Mackay1 remarked that “The Kalighat school of painting is perhaps the first school of painting in India that is truly modern as well as popular. With their bold simplifications, strong lines, vibrant colours and visual rhythm, these paintings have a surprising affinity to modern art”.

One of the earliest pieces of description on Kalighat paintings by Ajit Ghose2 is also worth to be mentioned here. He said: “The drawing is made with one long bold sweep of the brush in which not the faintest suspicion of even a momentary indecision, not the slightest tremor, can be detected. Often the line takes in the whole figure in such a way that it defies you to say where the artist’s brush first touched the paper or where it finished its work…”

The Mystery of Indian Floor Paintings

Swarup Dutta

Dean Academics, Indian Institute of Crafts and Design


 As a child one of my fondest memories is of Lakshmi Puja. The whole household seemed transformed. There was activity all around the household. I could sense a joyous mood in everyone. But the most remarkable reminder of this day to me was alpona – the beautiful floor decorations which my mother and sisters made on the threshold of our household, on the doorsteps leading to the prayer alter…”, remembers Narayan Sinha, a renowned sculptor, who has spent his childhood in rural Bengal.

Artist’s Space: Sarawut Chutiwongpeti

Independent Artist, Thailand

 

About the Artist

Sarawut Chutiwongpeti graduated from the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, in 1996. Since then, he has been working as a media artist with Cyber Lab at the Center of Academic Resources, Chulalongkorn University. He works in the area of contemporary art and likes to reveal the unexplored facets of experience. In 1998, he secured funding and travelled as a visiting artist/researcher to several countries such as Canada, the United States of America, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Austria, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Egypt, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and Japan. He contributes to the development of the media arts through his artistic and research practice. He is associated with a number of international organisations and centre and actively participated at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), ImaginAsia Project,

Smithsonian Institution (The Freer Gallery of Art and The Arthur M.Sackler Gallery, United State of America), ZKM Project, (Institute for Visual Media, Germany), Designskolen; Biennial Theatre Festival -Sight ‘n Vision, Nordic Theatre Union (Denmark), Fukuoka Asian Art Museum; Collaboration Art Network In-Between; Waseda University; Kobe University of Design (Japan),

Central European University (Hungary), International Cultural Centre Jeunesses Musicales Croatia Groznjan (Croatia), The TOU SCENE Contemporary Centre of Art, The Nordland Kunst 0g Filmskole, The Trondheim Electronic Arts Centre, The Kunstakademiet Trondheim (Norway), Luleå Winter Biennial, The Beeoff/Splintermind, The Ricklundgården and The Royal University College of Fine Arts (Sweden), Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, The Pro Artibus Foundation and Art Centre Saksala ArtRadius (Finland), Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea and Drodesera Centrale fies (Italy), MAAPMultimedia Art Asia Pacific, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), Rimbun Dahan and ABN AMRO-Malihom (Malaysia), Designing Your Future, Berlinale Talent Campus 2005, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Germany) and Biennale Bibliotheca Alexandrina 2005, Arts Center, Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt), Gyeonggido Museum of Modern Art, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Danwon Arts Museum, Arko Museum, Songsan Art Hall, Alternative Space Loop, Soeul Art Museum, Hankuk Art Museum , Korea International Art Fair (Korea) , ADCNI Biennale 2009 (Reunion, France) and Flaxart Studios (United Kingdom). Sarawut has organised many international solo and group exhibitions of his works. He has won many national and international awards for his original works.

He has directed his energies towards exploring the phenomena of interdisciplinary of art and culture and “searching for answers that can help reverse the subordination and objective materialism, which are prevalent in today’s society. What are the thoughts, doubts, fears, uncertainties, and reflections that we have and experience as we head towards the new material and immaterial territories, which we are to inhabit in the future?”

The Artist’s Statement

     “The project works, selected here, focus on the mechanisms of perception and dreams, the private world of the world of fantasy and unconscious, the conditions underlying the system by which mind and spirit operates. At the same time, the (in)-visibility of the structure creates a confusion on the viewers’ perception of the work and of the space where it is placed, thus provoking and ambiguous relationship between the object, its function and its appearance. Thus a mysterious force field is generated on the border of truth and lie, a force that is able to create unexpected angles of approach which in turn force the viewer to take up a new position in the observation of the surrounding world.”

 

Selected Works by Sarawut Chutiwongpeti

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