ANNIV SPL: Suman Chandra opens up about his works with Sohrai paintings

Influenced by coalmines, the artist’s landscape is a reflection of academics and art
Suman Chandra
Suman Chandra

He impressed the art world with his first solo show held this year at CIMA art gallery. Called Silent Vision, the multi-medi exhibition showcased emerging artist Suman Chandra's deep fascination with coal mine landscape and its barren beauty.

" Nature has always been my muse. It might sound a bit philosophical but I can say that the adventure of finding out the inner truth of any situation drives my artistic pursuits," says Suman whose first brush with coalfields was back in 2015 during a visit to Mugma Colliery. 

His ongoing work includes coal mines and Sohrai paintings and Indulge catches up with him to learn more. 

What inspires you?

 I am interested in landscape and I have chosen coal mines, Shantiniketan, and abandoned spaces. I usually work with those landscapes that are beyond the conventional aesthetics of beauty.

What kind of medium/s do you prefer to work with?

I try to work in a way where the medium gives off a message. I use charcoal and coal. My first tryst with coal was when the Lorries used to unload and it seemed like a black waterfall. Coal is a dusty material. I collected four specimens and cut them into shapes of diamonds. We always say coal is black but there are various shades of black too. I even found one brown.

How has Shantiniketan influenced your journey?

During college, I used to visit various places and draw night views of the place. I have also studied the works of Nandalal Bose and Benode Behari Mukhopadhyay and seen the vastness of Shantiniketan’s landscape. Through their art, I got to know how space and place in art also depict an artist's mindfulness. 

Sohrai artwork by Suman 
Sohrai artwork by Suman 

What are Sohrai paintings?

Houses near Panchet have a unique art called Sohrai on their walls. They celebrate the harvest festival during the Sankranti where the elder sister, Sohrai, comes home and makes this art. It is done only by women. They draw huge motifs like peacocks, hens, goats, cows etc. on large wall spaces.

How far has your work progressed around it?

I took the current  paintings and traced them to the past noticing the visual differences between the two. Also, Sohrai art is evolving with time due to the lack of primary colours, and concretised living quarters, among others.  Also, I have exposed my interpretation of Sohrai art to the smoke coming from the mines. This is a completely new method that wraps each drawing with a smell of the landscape. 

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