Kokila Bhattacharya, 23, was not even born when the gas disaster struck Bhopal in 1984. She, however, could not remain untouched by the pain and the helplessness of those affected by it, and took to painting to spread awareness about the tragedy.
“Drawing remains my primary medium of communication. When I was in college it irked me that we were not using communication design to talk about issues that mattered. I have been involved with the Bhopal issue since school, and this journey has made me who I am today,” says Bhattacharya, who has been holding exhibitions across the country on the gas tragedy.
Her paintings have already been exhibited in Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore, and will be displayed in Delhi next month. ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, the title of the exhibition, talks about ignorance, mostly from the elites who are disconnected from ground realities and the ones who suffer generally.
“People have stopped reading and questioning. No one has the patience anymore to dig the details. Here is where art and design intervene and a graphic visual will always tell a story better. Music, theatre and contemporary mixed arts have also come out lately as effective means of breaking taboos and provoking conversations,” she says.
One of her creations ‘Toxic Waltz’, where a dancing couple can be seen wearing masks, is quite popular. On asking about the same, she says, “It is drawn from an incident when the multinational corporation was asked whether they will clean up the toxics at the Carbide plant and decontaminate the area. They said ‘It is not our responsibility’. This is how I imagine negligent businessmen and women to be dancing happily having polluted a town.”
Ask her what she gets back from her art, she says, “Conversations. Whether my art talks of gender, environment or children, I know it has made an impact when there are conversations.”