Art & Artists:
(This section on Art -Discourse features noted artists of the north- eastern region with art historical significance. The focus of the section is to critically review their artistic endeavors and their contribution to the production and intellectual development of art to create a definitive contour. - Moushumi Kandali, Editor, Visual Art & Culture Section, nezine.com)
THE BODY AS CULTURAL AND POLITICAL ANATOMY : THE ART OF SHOBHA BRAHMA.
It was the evening of 21st April, 2002. A month long retrospective exhibition of the entire art works of the artist Shobha Brahma was held in the art gallery of Kala Khetra at Guwahati in Assam. An evening of ‘Meet the Artist’ was also held with fellow-artists, art critics, art connoisseurs and spectators who gathered in the gallery space to interact with the artist. It was on this very day on 21st April where the gathering had a vibrant discussion about the art of Shobha Brahma in particular and modern art in general while interacting with him. Suddenly a spectator questioned the artist—why his canvasses are mostly filled with a recurrent figure—that of a woman figure , a figure which is sensuous, voluptuous and overwhelming in nature ? He further questioned if the artist is obsessed with women figuration because of his pre-disposition for beauty and sensuousness of women ? The artist paused for some time and then replied -- “the being of an woman is a site of power and strength. I draw my inspiration from this site of inexhaustible energy.”
If one critically observes the women figurations by Shobha Brahma with in depth understanding about the cultural milieu of the artist, one can perhaps find the answer to this question and realise why Shobha Brahma’s artistic vision is predominated by such overwhelming presence of women, women who are monumental and iconic in their form. At first glance they might appear as sensuous as mentioned by that spectator, but they are never ‘Sexually Objectified’ . Rather, they are the archetypal, drawn from the Mother Cult where the feminine is the representative of the elan-vital, the nourishing form of Nature endowed with quintessential procreative power. For the artist, it is not any voyeurism at play or any obsessive disposition for the Erotic, but rather the meditation of that Archetypal Mother form representative of all the positive forces of life and the world. Shobha Brahma’s art has to be seen as an integral part of his location, socio-cultural contexts and indigenous belief-system. Therefore the women figures as seen in the ‘Deity’ series spring up as depictions of the Mother/ Nature equation at times and at others they are multiple sites for political reflexivity which was a very distinct characteristic of Shobha Brahma’s artistic ideology and humanitarian standing . In this context , he is very much at the same plane with another significant artist of time and place, Benu Mishra. Like Benu Mishra’s political visual-narratives, the art works of Shobha Brahma also weave up many socio-political tales in the figurative- narrative mode of artistic ex
Therefore, taken to the broader realm, the bodies or the figures (both female and male ) become signifier of some suggested commentary about the time and life of people of this part of the world , through the distinct lingual ex
Shobha Brahma, a trained artist from Santiniketan was both , a painter and sculptor who had been vigorously engaged in artistic endeavours. He had been able to create a stylistic idiom of his own, even though a subtle George Keytean undertone is felt. His figuration renders a vigorous display of strength and force. A vibrant and rich palette, with bold-passionate hues like red and black, his works are built on lavishly applied circular brush strokes. Though cubist at some distant point, the subject matter, of colour and forms evokes primitivistic and the folk elements, he surprises spectators by his sound understanding of the post impressionist pictorial grammar. Sometimes myth and at times social realities, projected through complex figuration conveys maturity and authenticity. In his sculptures, we can see finesse of execution, great skill in handling the material and fine thematic exploration. Wood had been his favourite material for sculptural ex
“On ultimate analysis it was found everything came to naught in the ‘hurly-burly’ of struggles, struggles to grapple with contemporary language of art ex
Born in Bhumka, Gosaingaon, his educational journey began from the school in Dhubri to Cotton college in Guwahati followed by his final artistic training in Santi Niketan. He dedicated his entire life to the field of art and became the principal of Fine Arts & Craft College of Assam at Guwahati. He became closely associated with the Srimata Sankardev Kalakhetra of Assam, a premier cultural institutional-hub conceived by another literary and cultural doyen of Assam, writer and film maker late Bhabendra Nath saikia. He also penned down several books as a trilingual writer in Bodo, Assamese and English. Some of the worth mentioning books are –Silpokolar Navajanma ( Re-Birth of Fine Arts ), Bharotiyo Chitrakola ( Indian Art ), Gwdan Uji, Jivon aru Chitrakola ( Life and Art ), Golap Ronga Sonali ( Red-Golden Roses ) , Leonardo-da- Vinci etc.
Shobha Brahma lived in a world of art and philosophy. He would start humming a Rabindra sangeet, a Borgeet or a Bodo mantra suddenly during any conversation and be lost in a different world. But when awake, he would look around with his socially conscious eyes and express his angst and anger at any maladies inflicting the human society through his rich- vibrant empathetic art-works.
*This essay is a part of the unpublished doctoral thesis ‘ Dynamics of Identity and Art Activism, An enquiry into the ontology and politics of Identity in Art with specific focus on Assam in the post colonial period’ by this author . Any citation or reference of this essay ( or any other essay of this section ) should acknowledge this web site in proper pedagogic methodology .