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New art with an old touch

art-and-culture Updated: Dec 21, 2011 01:47 IST

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The Calcutta Painters — a group of 28 artists which has been trying to break free of the traditional language of the Bengal school of art — has made a comeback to the Capital after 47 years with a group exposition of contemporary Bengal art.

The group, which describes itself as a follow-on of the Calcutta Group, the first progressive artists’ amalgam formed in 1943 before independence to explore a contemporary yet indigenous idiom in modern Indian art, had exhibited in the Capital in 1964 — the year it was created by the likes of Bengal contemporary pioneers like Prokash Karmakar, Rabin Mondal and Bijan Chowdhury.

The exhibition is on from December 14-28 at the Lalit Kala Akademi. “We pick up from where the Calcutta Group left off in 1943 — in our endeavour to break away from the traditions of Bengal school,” says artist Barun Roy, a senior member of the Calcutta Painters

The members’ line-up of the group in 2011 is a mixed bag — doyens like Prokash Karmakar, Niren Sengupta, Jogen Chowdhury, Rabin Mondal, Wasim Kapoor, Isha Mohammed and Bijan Chowdhury lend a relatively younger group of contemporary artists like Tapan Ghosh, Sudip Banerjee, Subhabrata Nandi and Sushanta Chakraborty a critical platform and space for exchange and co-existence. The art on display reflects the experience and an experimental zeal — that deconstructs and simplifies conventional forms to reunite them in new abstract and innovative ways — in a post-modernist style. The emphasis of the group is on vibrant and thick colours. “Our style is western neo-impressionistic — a rather loose version. We consciously encourage the use of colours to express feelings as colour is a powerful medium of expression. The approach is deconstruction, going beyond the form and then reconstructing it,” says Roy.

The group which has been experimenting with style and medium for all these years has steered clear of digital art. “We are not ultra-experimental — we still don’t subscribe to free-for-all art. However, younger artists like Subroto Ghosh have been influenced by American pop art. Our motto is to create something that teases the viewers’ imagination,” Roy said.