Exhibition of Ashok Bhowmick’s Art in Kolkata

Well-known painter Ashok Bhowmick held an exhibition of 12 of his paintings in the verandah of Vivekananda Hall at Jadhavpur University campus, after which in the afternoon he gave a talk on “Progressive Trends in Indian Painting”.

It was the occasion for remembering the Emergency in today’s context. During the Emergency Ashok Bhowmick was in Azamgarh town of UP. Those were the days when he was gaining an understanding of well-known Hindi poet Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh’s poem “Andhere Mein”. The paintings in the exhibition, inspired by Muktibodh’s “Andhere Mein” and other poems, have an impact similar to that of paintings by Goya and also Picasso’s “Guernica”. All the 12 paintings included in the exhibition were painted in the 1980s.

The exhibition was organized under the joint aegis of the Kolkata chapter of Pratirodh ka Cinema (Cinema of Resistance) and the art group Jan Kala Samooh of the Jan Sanskriti Manch. Introducing Ashok Bhowmick, Pratirodh ka Cinema Kolkata chapter convenor Kasturi said that he is one of those rare artists of today who relate art and politics. Inaugurating the exhibition, lyricist, singer and musician Nitish Roy (associated with Gana Sanskriti Parishad) appreciated the significant contribution of Bhowmick in taking the identity and work of Indian progressive artists to the people and compared his contribution to Hindi literary society to that of Kolkata artist Khaled Choudhury. Speaking on the occasion national convenor of the Pratirodh ka Cinema campaign Sanjay Joshi highlighted the importance of the cultural-political atmosphere nurtured by Bhowmick along with the Progressive Students’ Association (now AISA) in Allahabad and credited him as the creator of the poetry-poster movement and the new genre of calligraphy.

Bhowmick gave the audience a detailed introduction to the context of each of the pictures in the exhibition.

In his talk on “Progressive Trends in Indian Painting” Bhowmick explained to the people the identification of progressive elements in Indian painting and the finer points and politics of painting. His talk was divided into sub-headings and accompanied by slides of examples from world art. In this context he stressed that the responsibility of today’s artist is to take art to the common people. He discussed the progressive elements in Indian painting under different sections.

After the talk Bhowmick had a 45 minute question and answer session with the audience. Answering a question on whether the progressive legacy is still alive post Kamrul Hassan (in this era of Metro Art), Bhowmick replied that there are certainly some young painters who are preventing their paintings from becoming “goods for sale” and whom he would definitely discuss in a future talk.

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