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Sanjay Bhattacharyya’s coffee table book, Mirror To The World, is a labour of love

Mirror To The World by Sanjay Bhattacharyya is like his biography narrated through paintings and photographs.

books Updated: Jun 08, 2017 17:57 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Sanjay Bhattacharyya,Pritish Nandy,Satyajit Ray
Artist Sanjay Bhattacharyya’s latest book traces the history of his works from his student days to the present times. (Shivam Saxena/HT Photo)

Art needn’t be explained to anyone — that’s the thought that artist Sanjay Bhattacharyya works with. He prefers leaving the interpretation of his work to the viewers at his exhibitions. But his first coffee table book, Mirror to the World, did demand some writing to go with the artworks. “Writing isn’t my cup of tea, so I have left that to the experts,” he says.

Talking about how the book came about, Bhattacharyya shares, “One of my friends told me that it’s important for people to have access to all my works. An art exhibition usually displays about 15 to 20 artworks at a time.”

Compiled over seven months, the book comprises about 276 artworks (including some photographs), tracing his artistic oeuvre from his student days to the present times. And this proves how the painter (and a poet at heart) has always been on the lookout for new subjects. “I can’t continue one subject for years,” says Bhattacharyya, who has also penned a book of poems.

The cover of the coffee table book by artist Sanjay Bhattacharyya.

“Initially, I only painted Kolkata for five years. When I moved to Delhi in 1983, I could only find my inspiration in the state of Rajasthan. But in 1994, I devoted an entire series to (former Prime Minister) Rajeev Gandhi, and in 1999, I paid tribute to the iconic filmmaker Satyajit Ray. I still remember how (filmmaker) Pritish Nandy refused to believe that I painted those compositions from few of Ray’s films, such as Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977). I know why Nandy felt so because I had changed my whole technique for those artworks. I just can’t stick to one thing,” he laughs.

It wasn’t easy collating a wide range of Bhattacharyya’s works in the book that’s divided in four sections, including one on his pursuits in his studio when he is not busy painting. “A major challenge was the page layout. The writers wanted to bring images on the page where they had written about the works. This required several changes,” says the artist.

A collage of Satyajit Ray’s films depicted through paintings by Sanjay Bhattacharyya.

Was he satisfied with the result? “I’m never satisfied! And, I don’t plan to come up with another coffee table book, at least, not in near future. Remember I told you, I can’t stick to one thing for long!” he concludes.

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First Published: Jun 02, 2017 17:25 IST