Galerie88's exhibition to showcase Anupam Chakraborty's handmade paper works
Ever wondered whether something as flat and lifeless as paper could convey human emotions so beautifully? Time and again, poets and artists have proved the very fact- that despite being two-dimensional, a paper has always served as a loyal friend or a receptacle of human emotions; acting as the perfect accomplice to your colourful fantasies or secret woes.
But artist Anupam Chakrabarty decided to give this association of artworks, with paper, a completely different turn when he learnt the art of creating handmade paper in 2000 at the Glasgow School of Art, in the UK.
This Saturday, the artist will be showcasing some of his most recent works created between August 2018 and March 2019, at an exhibition called The Battery House, organised by Galerie88. The exhibition, named after the ancestral house where he still lives, will have 24 individual artworks made with handmade paper. Each of his works is inspired from some or the other aspects of the house, whether it is about human relationships- their strife and strain, the culinary culture of a family which relocated to Kolkata from East Bengal aeons ago or the nostalgia of Aparajita flowers used for morning prayers.
His artwork breathes with a life of its own and has some story to tell, whether it is a childhood memory or differences in opinion between four generations of the family or a vivid encounter with old age itself. The artist uses natural and reactive dyes, along with methods like the sand-bag technique for a 3-D hollow paper cast, plaster of Paris mould for 2-D relief sculpture and threads for 2-D paper relief, to create works like Haven, Trail-I, II, III, Foodpipe and many others.
He even uses the Papyrus-making technique in a series called Lost Associations, displayed in 14 separate parts, and illuminated with artificial light to convey the inherent memories of the artist’s childhood, which was largely spent in the garden surrounding The Battery House, a space which no longer exists.
While the work Haven, created in the form of colourful nests of weaver birds, hanging from the ceiling, symbolises several rooms of the house, where different relations and family members stayed together; Trail-I, II and III talks about the co-existence of different belief systems in a shared space, where each generation despite belonging to the same family, maintained different lifestyles and created their own paths, but without upsetting the cohesive harmony.
Similarly, Foodpipe, is the result of a pondering by the artist, who also doubles up as an author on his myriad flights of fantasy, to give shape to an unending food pipe, which is made to stand for all the digestive tracts from the family, who regularly participate in a long-inherited culinary culture of consuming several meals a day.
While some of Anupam’s observations border on the absurd, others are deeply moving- such as Wither, where he compares the old, yellowed, crinkly pages of a book with the skin of an octogenarian. The pages, coloured with iron stains, come to resemble the creased skin of old people, with several marks and striation, which conveys a sense of closing time- of life; just like autumn, when the leaves are ready to fall.
Even the ‘virtual army’ of rolling pins, graters, ladles, stirrers and serving spoons of different shapes and sizes, finds a place in Anupam’s work, called Inhabitants; as they too have been handed down by generations of the family and still work together, as an active part in the day-to-day life of The Battery House.
So who inspires the reticent artist- “I am greatly inspired by Rabindranath Tagore, Ramkinkar Baij, Meera Mukherjee, Bhupen Khakhar, and Kartick Chandra Pyne. I like how they express human emotions,” says Anupam, who is also the founder and creative director of Nirupama Academy of Handmade Paper.
“Painting, I believe should be more like an enigma. Not like illustrations. Illustrations are self-explanatory, but paintings should provoke you to ask questions. Good art has different layers of understanding,” he adds with a smile.
The Battery House exhibition opens at Galerie88 on April 6 at 6 pm