Poet-artist Nilanjan Bandyopadhyay will blend poetry with calligraphy in upcoming exhibition
Poetry hanging on the walls, poetry as a visual treat rather than an auditory exercise. Seems surreal? Poet, artist and calligraphist Nilanjan Bandyopadhyay is merging poetry with calligraphy for the very first time and showcasing the same in his upcoming exhibition of Poetry and Calligraphy at Maya Art Space.
Calligraphy is a very well known art form in countries including Japan, Korea and China and recently, Kolktata, too, saw a few glimpses of such art in Monk Dachan’s exhibition held at Indian Museum. But poetry in for of calligraphy will be a first of its kind experience for the city.
Bandyopadhay drew his inspiration to paint a few words in Bengali on canvas from his enriching conversations with Japanese Shodo during his frequent visits to Japan. Shodo in Japanese means ‘The way of writing’. “The poet in me wanted to experiment. I wanted to wield a brush to write poetry on canvas. If it can be done in other Asian languages, why not in Bengali, too? The letters in our language are no less beautiful,” smiles Bandyopadhyay.
The eccentric 44-year-old poet and artist, who works from his studio Kokoro, meaning heart in Japanese, designed and built at Santiniketanby a talented Japanese architect Kengo Sato, adds that calligraphy in Bengali is not uncommon, with many posters, book covers and billboards displaying creatively beautiful calligraphy. “But abstraction in Bengali calligraphy is something very rare and that’s precisely I have worked upon,” he explains.
An ardent admirer of Japanese aesthetics, Bandyopadhyay has significantly been influenced by the Japanese poets, especially the Japanese Zen monks, who simultaneously created poems and calligraphic art and often concluded their career by writing a death-poem.
Even Rabindranath Tagore, after his visit to Japan had been influenced by the beautiful calligraphy and started writing poems and signing autographs in Bangali calligraphy with large brush on big papers and many of those works are currently being preserved in Japan. A few of those works can also be seen in Visva Bharati’s museum. A Japanese scroll with Tagore’s poem written with a brush for a young Japanese painter Kampo Arai can be seen at the Sakura City Museum in Japan.
In 1903 celebrated Japanese scholar statesman Okakura Kakuzo sent two promising Japanese painter Taikan Yokoyama, Hishida Shunso to Joransanko at Tagore house to have exchanges of techniques with artists including Abanindranath Tagore and Gaganedranath Tagore.
Three calligraphic styles are commonly noticed in Japan today -- Kaisho (block style), Gyosho (semi cursive style) and Sosho (cursive style). “I prefer the cursive (Sosho) style to write poetry using Bengali script. The cursive style, quite often, makes it difficult to decipher the text written in few, swift strokes, unless explained,” elucidates Bandyopadhyay.
Bandypadhyay is usually fond of using traditional Japanese writing accessories including kami or hanshi (paper), shitajiki (supporting pad),sumi (ink), suzuri (ink stone), fude (brush), suiteki (water dropper) and bunchin (paperweight). It is customary to sign calligraphic works along with one or multiple rakkans (seals). “My most favourite personal seal bears the Japanese katakana alphabet 'ni' representing the first two initials of my name,” he adds.
Madhuchhanda Sen, proprietor of Maya Art Space, feels that this is a unique and first-of-its-kind art exhibition in the city, which will expose art lovers to a different form of art. “Each poetry in calligraphy looks like a painting. The word brishti (rain in Bengali) or swapno(dream in Bengali) is painted in such a manner that it is bound to transport the viewer into the very world that the artist poet is talking about. We are very excited to showcase Nilanjan’s works and hopeful that it resonates with the veiwers,” says an excited Sen.
The exhibition will also witness the launch of Bandyopadhyay’s book of poems, Ekta Kichu Hariechilo, with an English translation of the same by Rai Ganguly.
In Japanese calligraphic practices, it is important to transmit one's life force and energy (ki) into writing in a situation of freedom and joy. This is exactly what Bandyopadhyay claims to have been trying to practise without being much concerned about its possible success or failure.
An Exhibition of Poetry and Calligraphy by Nilanjan Bandyopadhyay
When: October 29- November 6, 2-8 pm daily
Where: Maya Art Space, Mohona, 329, Shanti Pally, Rajdanga, Kolkata – 700017
Call: 9836069987 / 9051574622