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  Life   Art  13 Dec 2019  The Uncensored Canvas

The Uncensored Canvas

THE ASIAN AGE. | SEAN COLIN YOUNG
Published : Dec 13, 2019, 12:50 am IST
Updated : Dec 13, 2019, 12:50 am IST

An exhibition that depicts narratives of political struggle and activism in a straightforward manner.

Iconising Blacks and Dalits
 Iconising Blacks and Dalits

Art has the capacity to bring out the activist side of an artist. After all, art mirrors society and reflects the good, the bad and the ugly.

Kolkata-based artist Probir Gupta, in collaboration with Anant Art, is presently exhibiting his works in the capital. Under the banner of ‘Family is Plural’, his collection explores the idea of archiving memory. The artist delves into subjects like urban politics, migration, humanity and communities.

In his paintings, sculptures and installations, he provides an artistic spin to sociopolitical events. Apart from being an artist, Probir happens to be an activist, and his activism is depicted through his works. He explains, “It is because of my constant engagement with people coming from different communities. I have always told myself that I like to talk about people and connect with them. I don’t like to make beautiful paintings and drawings that must match with, say, curtains.”

As the name of his exhibition suggests that 'family is plural', Probir's definition of 'family' is different from what most people consider it to be. For him, a family is more than blood relations. “I don’t believe that in a civilised society, people should be thinking of family in terms of blood relation. Family is about being a part of a society and being concerned about each and everyone.”

In one of his installations, The Raft: In Memory of Gericault and Noah, which uses canvas and cotton (quilt), we see an old white woman sleeping in the arms of a black woman. On the installation, the artist speaks, “Black people were used as slaves as if they had been stamped with the element of discrimination, which continues to happen in civilised and powerful countries even today.”          

For the artist, politics doesn’t solely mean the hustle and bustle that exists between governments. He elucidates, “For me, it is about people and the life of people and what they face. I don’t think anybody has any monopoly over the word ‘politics’ as it can be good politics also. If I am ever termed a politician, I would say that this is ‘good politics’.”

One can find Probir’s pain being depicted through his works. Talking about one of them that uses elements such as rubber stamps and keys, he reveals, “A rubber stamp would give me the right to cross a border or enter a country. I imagine what can happen to people who have to depend on others to decide for them whether they will enter a place and live as a citizen (or not).”      

Something new is revealed every time one looks at one of Probir's works. “When you get involved in an artwork, you are also working towards self-liberation. There are things that happen without explanation also,” he believes.

When asked about whether he is satisfied with the output of the works or not, he concludes, “Let people discover whether they like it or not, and I will leave it at that.”

— The exhibition is ongoing at Bikaner House till December 29.

Tags: anant art