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Eloquent works

The use of sober colours and subjects marks the collection of etchings by Bengali artist Amitabh Banerjee. On show at Artworld till June 28.


AMITABH BANERJEE is a senior artist from Bengal, who is known for his paintings and graphic prints. Some of his etchings are on show at Artworld till June 28.

This septugenarian artist has participated in a number of international exhibitions and workshops held in the U.S., U.K., Holland, Canada, Germany and other parts of the world, besides India. He has also won the National Award and was involved in the establishment of the Regional Centre of the Lalit Kala Akademi in Kolkata.

The etchings are sober not just in respect of choice of colours but the subjects too often touch on more on the solemn aspects of life; they have also more to do with nighttime, when man generally indulges in contemplation.

The figurative expressions are sometimes straightforward depictions such as in "Night bird" or "The pet" which show a woman and the bird she brings up. But, sometimes, the figures convey abstract feelings like in "Desolation", in which the sad eyes of the young woman expresses the emotion clearly. In another work "Kiss", the bird itself represents the woman's love, though the figures themselves are quite realistic.

"Dream" is more surrealistic in approach and brings out the illogical events that one often comes across in one's dreams; the tree seems to come out of the person's stomach and leads the viewer to wonder about all that would have happened in that dream. "Absence of light" has a bright patch of yellow light, which contrasts effectively with darker wooded areas surrounding that light; this is like a mirage of light leading a person lost in a forest, resembling the uneasy feeling one gets when one is not able to properly read one's emotions, reactions and the fleeting ideas.

A few of the etchings are simple in approach like the "Gate", which concentrates on architectural features such as a gate and a flight of steps beyond it. In contrast, the quiet and dreamy "Radha" is diametrically opposed to the etching expressing violent passion through the vibrant dance movements of a woman, her body bent backwards, hair flying, arms flaying.

One might feel that Banerjee's works are somewhat old fashioned from the point of view of technique and theme, but that seems to be his strength. He has gone about his work with conviction in his technique. He has used mild colours, while myriad criss-cross strokes of the sharp tool create the required depth. Wherever needed, the lines are strong and firm, while in other places they are delicate and broken. Though figures often portray life situations, they are not necessarily steeped in photographic realism; Banerjee adopts mild distortions where he feels it would enhance the effect.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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