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Montage of life

Samir Mondal uses only water colours in his works which are influenced by his surroundings


FOR ARTIST Samir Mondal (now settled in Mumbai) born in a remote village (Balti) in West Bengal, living in a metropolitan city has influenced his works in such a way that elements of city scape and influences of the other media (mass) coalesce to emerge as a montage. His medium of watercolour has not changed for decades. "The unpredictability of the medium excites me. When I apply two colours at one end the merging and mixing results in creative visuals. It's an easy medium. Don't call me an artist, I prefer to be known as the waterman," says Mondal. His first exposure to colour was the natural ones - like alta and crushed leaves and berries and the canvas of nature was his inspiration. He used to draw whatever he could or even cut out shapes and paste them on to paper. Though there were no sketch books in the initial stages, he would draw on anything possible and available. But water was a powerful image that stayed with him. "I lived near a river and so there was water all around me. The joy of seeing the big sky, the green fields and the white clouds was immense," says Mondal, who subsequently went to the Government College of Fine Arts in Calcutta with some difficulty.

"In essence my early days of struggle were my years of study. Initially I painted landscapes, peacocks, shelters and other aspects before the present exhibition."

Mondal strongly feels surroundings make a man. "The urban scape is part of my life and so are the visuals around - television, hoardings and others." So these elements, knowingly or unknowingly, form part of the visual vocabulary. A bit of figuration and abstraction set in the process of conceptualising the painting and the assemblage. Thereby, the motifs are contemporary particularly those mounted at the Shrishti Art Gallery in the show titled "Confluence" on till Jan.31 . In a way, it is the meeting point of various influences and experience.

These urban motifs are post-modern. They reflect the dynamics of politics, urbanisation and social set up and perhaps even the existential angst. Bright, dark, at times brooding images with graffiti at times arrest the attention of the viewer. Images of animals too make an appearance. Yet at the same time there is a sense of mystery and incompleteness which is intriguing. Samir Mondal has held one man shows within the country and studied at many German cities under the Indo-German Cultural Exchange Programme. Despite three decades in art, Mondal says "till today I feel I am making one big painting." He has significantly played with watercolours using various ways to add depth, structure and texture to his works. "I have no time to do any other medium."

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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