"Greatest reform starts inside minds of people": Avijit Dutta at India Art Fair 2018
Born in 1974, Avijit Dutta obtained his BFA in Painting from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, and was awarded by the Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, as well as the Certificate of Merit from the Rabindra Bharati University. At the India Art Fair 2018, he will be showing a new work based on playing cards, hosted by Hyderabad's Kalakriti Art Gallery. We caught up for a chat with the artist, leading up to the festival.
Please tell us a little about the artworks that you will be showing at the Art Fair this year. Is there an underlying message in your works that you wish to share with viewers?
Avijit Dutta: I am exhibiting my series of works titled, ‘Life is a deck of cards’. The series contains a set of fifty eight art works, just like a real deck of cards. I believe that in the game of life, whether we win or we lose, participation is the most important aspect.
Even if you are a king, a queen, a joker or an ace, fate changes your destiny within seconds, that’s how I as a player have perceived it so far. The winner decides the moves fearlessly and dares to take risks. The deck of cards has played a significant role since time immemorial. This series of works intends to describe the various phases of human life.
Each of the cards is symbolic quotient for the ups and downs of life. All the fifty-four individual card(s) depict our common stories of life. Each of them are demarcated phases of life from childhood with its innocence followed by the values, with which we proclaim ourselves to be grown up with the passage of time, with an intention to showcase that would help us to simplify and understand our journey of life; from a simple to a complex being unintentionally.
Give us your overview, of the rise in political art over the last few years, as you have been witnessing it - as a viewer, and as an artist. Would you like to see more artists making powerful works with a socially relevant message?
AD: My work evolves from personal experiences and contemplations, it imbibes and portrays different conflicts of the human minds more than any political over view or statement. And, yet, it’s always good to see politically inspired works done by artists.
An artist is a part and parcel of the society and so if he has something to say about the society he does it with his medium of expression. A socially or politically charged work often brings to notice many intricate aspects of the society which often go unnoticed. So, according to me such works are doorways towards unveiling the core aspects about our surroundings and existential realities.
What, according to you, is political art - in essence?
AD: Political art aims at initiating and triggering the thought process of the viewers. Like it is often quoted that the greatest of reforms starts inside the minds of the people, in sync with this belief, politically or socially relevant art, works on the minds of the viewers. And since it converses directly with the mind and soul of the onlookers it is a very strong means of initiating any kind of change in our surroundings.
A lot of contemporary art, unfortunately, tends to get discussed in closed and often select groups. How would you like to encourage further discussions on art among larger groups of people, and possibly extend art appreciation in a more inclusive, rather than exclusive manner?
AD: Very few people visit art galleries and so rather than expecting the remaining lot of people to come to galleries and museums to see art, it is always a better idea to take art to the places they visit in day to day life. Art related activities and exhibitions at public places are very good at including viewers coming from all walks of life. Street art, performances and shows at local public centres have the capacity to initiate and inculcate a tradition for art appreciation as well as healthy criticism.
In the last few years, we have also seen the rise of varied forms of art - spanning performance, video, installations, street theatre, poetry and even music, especially of the folk kind. How would you like to see all these art forms coming together, to make more of an impact not just for the sake of contemporary art, but for a larger social cause?
AD: As long as the culmination and combination of various media supports the artist’s dialogue, such kind of blend is good. A medium should be selected and worked with only to enhance expression. Video installations, street theatre, poetry and music are all interrelated to one another.
All forms of art are seamlessly woven together. It is always a pleasure to see such media getting used by talented artists to support their concepts and ideas. Sometimes the usage of a non-conventional medium for creating art not only strengthens the artist’s dialogue but also makes it more attractive, inviting and fascinating for the viewers.
There's also the final question about balancing the aspects of your view, for a powerful work of art to also be visually, and artistically pleasing and beautiful - perhaps, to emphasise the underlying message?
AD: Expression is the most important aspect of art. Beauty and aesthetic perfection is not a necessity for art and yet in some works it is inculcated naturally and embedded deeply as a part and parcel of expression.
So, being visually appealing is not what art aims at but ‘expression’ is of course the most needed element of art. Beauty can thus be an added advantage for a work of art but without expression it will be a like a body without soul.
Avijit Dutta will be showing ‘Life is a deck of cards’ with Hyderabad's Kalakriti Art Gallery at India Art Fair, New Delhi, Feb 9-12.