Curatorial Note

November 2009 : Mother & Child-Group Show

An exhibition of works by artists Anjali Ela Menon, Suhas Roy, Jogen Chowdhury, Prakash Karmakar, Sunil Das, Shuvaprasanna, Vasundhara Tewari Broota, Partha Pratim Deb, Sunil Kr. Das, Prasanta Sahu, Debabrata De, Chandrima Bhattacharya, Arunangshu Chowdhury, Pratul Dash, Murli Cheeroth, T.M.Aziz, Pradip L. Mishra, Debraj Goswami, Samir Aich, Mahjabin i. Mazumdar, Babu Ishwar Prasad, Ranjan Krishnan & C.F.John.

Shri.Sunil Das, eminent artist of our country ,proposed to us to invite few important artists of our country, to participate in our gallery, on the concept of ‘Mother & Child’. Mr. Das and we, requested the artists to create this concept in any different form and with any medium- material; not as the usual form of Mother & Child ,as artists created in the past .We gave them the liberty to paint on the concept ‘Mother & Child’ in any medium /form and depict the said concept their very own way.

Rich in human interest the subject has been given celebrated classic expressions in such masterpieces as Michelangelo’s Pieta, Raphael’s Madonna and nearer home in Jamini Roy’s paintings of the same title and Jainul Abedin’s famine drawings in which often a famished mother with her skin-and-bone children fleshes out the terrible pity and terror of starvation. There has been no elemental change in the relation between a mother and a child despite several paradigmatic shifts that have taken place since the days when a woman’s primary role was to bear and rear children.

Artists, therefore, asked to paint or sculpt a very traditional subject in two very traditional genres found the task quite challenging and have turned out works that have an engaging range in terms of conceptual and formal content.

Installation View Of The Show

Mother & Child-Group Show An exhibition of works by artists Anjali Ela Menon, Suhas Roy, Jogen Chowdhury, Prakash Karmakar, Sunil Das, Shuvaprasanna, Vasundhara Tewari Broota, Partha Pratim Deb, Sunil Kr. Das, Prasanta Sahu, Debabrata De, Chandrima Bhattacharya, Arunangshu Chowdhury, Pratul Dash, Murli Cheeroth, T.M.Aziz, Pradip L. Mishra, Debraj Goswami, Samir Aich, Mahjabin i. Mazumdar, Babu Ishwar Prasad, Ranjan Krishnan & C.F.John.

Art Work In The Show

Mother & Child-Group Show As a theme Mother and Child is unlikely to stimulate a contemporary artist to produce a work, strikingly fresh and intriguing in idea, that suits the strategies of image-making a la mode today. Rich in human interest the subject has been given celebrated classic expressions in such masterpieces as Michelangelo’s Pieta, Raphael’s Madonna and nearer home in Jamini Roy’s paintings of the same title and Jainul Abedin’s famine drawings in which often a famished mother with her skin-and-bone children fleshes out the terrible pity and terror of starvation. There has been no elemental change in the relation between a mother and a child despite several paradigmatic shifts that have taken place since the days when a woman’s primary role was to bear and rear children. Artists, therefore, asked to paint or sculpt a very traditional subject in two very traditional genres found the task quite challenging and have turned out works that have an engaging range in terms of conceptual and formal content. Some of the artists, both senior and young, mostly represented by works on paper or canvas, have either treated the theme with straightforward mother- and-child motifs or their analogous counterparts drawn from the world of flora or fauna. They have addressed the given theme with varied recycling of the pristine notion of the mother-and-child ties evident not only in human instances but also in the entire living world in which feminine species is the exclusive conduit of life force flowing from generation to generation. Sunil Das’s watercolor sports tiny apples sprouting out of a big ripe apple to draw an oblique parallel between fruition and child-bearing. A mother’s attachment to her child is either instinctual or animalistic as in Shuvaprasanna’s Crow feeding its young ones, Rajan Krishna’s canvas showing monkey mother giving its cubs a piggyback ride or a bitch suckling a litter of puppies in Debabrata Chakraborty’s bronze. Of a different mould is Pradip Misra’s canvas divided equally into red and white squares, one sporting a rose with a long stem and the other a pair of a swan and a cygnet, to spell out the agony and ecstasy of motherhood. A child nestling in its mother’s lap or arms makes the most charged image of instant human appeal in some of the works which however successfully eschew the cliché of traditional approach. Prakash Karmakar’s lusty young mother looks taken aback by her sucking baby’s tug at the teat. A dove on fluttering wings in Suhas Roy’s oil suggests the ecstasy of both the caressing mother and her cuddled-up child. But Aziz’s portrait of a poor tribal woman with her child against a chiaroscuro background stands out with her somber face. Sunil Kumar Das’s bronze-and-wood also evokes in an innovative formal handling a grave-looking tribal mother with her baby snuggly pouched on her back. C F John’s two paintings portray in each a pair of happy urban mother and child with certain formal tropes to avoid suggestions of a traditional treatment. The image of a mother acquires a fresh update in Partha Pratim Deb’s bright red-and-yellow acrylic in which she looks today’s urban mom with all the proper props. In her smooth oil Anjalie Ela Menon sticks to the traditional apotheosis of a lay mother by placing the child Ganesha in her lap. There is a dig at this deification in Arunanshu Chowdhury’s acrylic, A Holy Cow, showing a fairly large cow, its body covered all over with imprints of the pictures of gods and goddesses, being milked by milkmaids. In the rest of the exhibits the artists, mostly young, who employ the post-modernist updates of image-making, have treated the theme in contrived visuals with motifs placed on a pictorial space of no specific semantic dimensions and without any apparent syntactical interlink. In one instance, Babu Ishwar Prasad’s acrylic, an assemblage of disparate motifs which often defy identification defines a mother’s job as the prime function of mother nature : the generation and nourishment of life. The traditional mother-and-child image is seldom painted in any of them though the narratives include directly or indirectly figurative evocation of either character. Debraj Goswami’s Family Background has, of course, the mother-and-child motif in the foreground but it obscurely relates to an unidentifiable slice of the landscape backdrop of Mona Lisa only to underscore that there has been no shift in a mother’s relationship with her child in the centuries since the time of Da Vinci’s painting. Mahajabin Majumder’s x-ray-like view of an unborn child in the mother’s womb tells the tale from its prenatal beginning. In two acrylics Chandrima Bhattacharya gives her story a fairytale twist with an yellow-haired white woman, for whom motherhood is ‘a willful wishful burden’, suggested by the symbolism, often sexual, of both pleasure and pain in motifs like a serpent, a serpentine flight of stairs, pigs with or without wings and a cheetah with the head of a bearded man not unlike that of Holofernes in the hand of Judith. Pratul Dash also evokes in his acrylic of photographic realism the complex experience of a lonely mother lying prostrate in pain but blessed by the arrival of her child, her angel as signified by its winged shadow. In Murli-Cheeroth’s dyptich the child ensconced in the mother’s care stares at the world abroad which looks like an unwelcome junkyard. Samir Aich’s contés which look almost white-on-white are the only abstract works in the show with a minimalist visual reference to the subject. In one, a curved line, faintly drawn, etches the pregnancy swell of the abdomen with a light stain of pink at the navel. In the other a plain triangle contours the female pubis with obvious suggestions of the child’s entry point to the world.Vasundhara Tiwari strikes a different note in her canvas in which the child is grown up enough to stand face to face with the mother whose shadowy profile melts in background blue, unable to cope with the confrontation.

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