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Chittrovanu Mazumdar’s captivating creations
Chittrovanu Mazumdar has established himself as one of India's top contemporary artists. No surprise that his showcase of works courtesy Dubai based 1x1 Art Gallery at the hugely successful Art Expo India 2009 was a major draw.

The gallery incidentally hosted a show of his recent installations earlier this year. Elaborating on his work, a release noted: “It’s often akin to texts in disguise. In the wake of ‘new theory’ (Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes etc.), the artist switches relations between text and image in his work. An interconnection and many a time- a complementariness is also to be found between text and materiality, within Indian culture. This is a materiality that relates to the symbolic domain such as that of the rituality of daily practice.”

There has been equal evidence of what’s termed overtly as universal language, as well as local nuances or dictions. This makes his work a multi-layered journey into the complex cultural coding process. The enchanted and fluid cultures have been omnipresent as an undercurrent in his creations. His intense engagements help him strike the chord of a differentiated sense of time. It lets him address the complex question of belonging in an equally subtle subjective morphing.

Born in Paris, Chittrovanu Mazumdar could access two contrasting cultures from his early years. His vast range of references incorporates varied inputs from his upbringing in Paris and Kolkata coupled with a range of reading in English, Bengali and French. He studied printmaking and painting at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. The artist received a gold medal at the Government College of Art, Kolkata. Of course, his art education started much earlier, as his father was one of the established avant-garde artists of his time. The latter thrust him into an arty life.

His recent major solo was at Bodhi Art Gallery, New Delhi in 2005. Chittrovanu Mazumdar has shown his work across the world since his debut art outing in 1985. Fusing the sensual with the intellectual, he constructs unique creations that have been shown at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai; Bose Pacia Modern, New York; Seagull Foundation, Kolkata; Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai; and Aicon Gallery, London, among other venues.

His more recent works are born as much out of his earlier conceptual/ literary engagements with cryptic suggestions cultures offer. The installation pieces he showcased at 1x1 Art Gallery essentially comprised carts with blinds and digital works encased in cabinets, plus cinematic/ video projections. The works distributed in three rooms, had digital elements. On closer scrutiny, one could see that the images and/or the devices were not just gestural; they elaborated on a covert content. He used a carcass of a calf as one of the motifs among many assembled images suggestive of the land at different states of bounty, transition and decay. His works were also showcased at The India Art summit 2009. The director of 1x1, Malini Gulrajani, was quoted as saying: “Most people would desist from feature a single artist at such a major platform. I, however, as a gallery person wanted to do justice to his work that I admire so much.”

The artist created a series ranging from large mixed media works in difficult and diverse mediums such as wax, metal, tar, light and photography that were wall mounted. There was a series of photographic as well as wax works plus a sculpture-installation. There were a few digital works of landscape and figurative imagery with wax and tar on mild steel.

The artist was quoted as saying: “The blueprint for these is the cohabitation of opposites.” He explained that the idea was to juxtapose mythical reverberations of black & white by employing ‘light-hungry’, night-dark tar and also the trays of light, which feed those depths, simultaneously reflecting off them. His video, entitled ‘Sleep’, showcased the subtle interrogation of the surface wherein the depths unpredictably erupted through cracks in an apparently seamless skin.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar terms himself as an expressionist painter and describes art as a private act, a search within the individual for the artist. To him, work offers him the space of freedom where everything he conceives can move, transform, and dramatically turn around to become something else. “There are structures and systems one follows up to a certain point but then gradually gets out of them,” is how he sums up his art process.