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Artist Profile2
What inspires and influences Barun chowdhury’s art?
The dramatic changes and constant transition of life from one spectrum to another as well as drastic transformations in surroundings often lead to confusion and chaos. There is uncertainty about one’s very purpose of existence and survival. Barun chowdhury’s work continually reflects his ideas and musings on the prevailing political and social scenario. Narratives usually are presented in a storyboard format. The entire canvas is often segregated into separate boxes that suggest differing time frames and perhaps the lack of permanency. This, most importantly, points to a belief on the artist’s part that “Reality is not really what it seems to be from the outside or periphery…”

This is an artist who prefers realistic imagery, opting to shun the abstract, believing that the viewers have a chance to relate to and to identify with the fathomable images. He makes use of popular and kitsch symbols abundantly in his works in an endeavor to retain a familiar `Indianness` - not just traditional but also the modern crammed cosmopolitan culture. It’s a blend of ancient culture and modernity. He also doesn’t mind infusing an autobiographical element by using his own images as a representative of the common man.

His works carry a vibrant and vivacious visual appeal. On a closer look, one can fathom its message, a sharp critique of today`s complex and turbulent socio-political scenario. He is invariably concerned with the honest depiction of the world around, looking to emphasize relation of ‘the social male’ to society and prevailing social issues. The figures build a space and platform of their own so as to search for the relevance and context of the events and happenings today. The artist poses fundamental questions like, who we are, why we are here and where we are heading not proclaiming to possess easy answers to these issues; he merely articulates emotions or situations that people can spontaneously identify with.

Born in Khelar village and now based in Baroda, he did his Diploma in Painting, Bangiya Sangeet Parishad, affiliated to Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata (1989-91); Bachelor of Visual Arts (Painting) from Government College of Art and Craft, Kolkata (1991-96), and M.F.A. (Graphics) from Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (1997-99). Among his selected solo exhibits are ‘The Season of Discontent’, Gallery Aakriti, Kolkata (2008); ‘New Prints’, Glasgow Print Studio, Gallery -III, Glasgow (2003), and a show at Nazar Art Gallery, Baroda (2000).

His significant group shows include 'New Perspectives of India', Avanthay Contemporary, Zurich (2009); 'Freshly Squeezed: The Young Indian Contemporaries', Suchitrra Arts, Mumbai (2008); ‘Freedom: What it Means To Me’, Aakriti Art Gallery, Kolkata; ‘Confronting Globalization’, MonArt Gallerie, Kolkata; ‘Modern to Contemporary’, Gallery Kolkata; and ‘Ten Days in Aurangabad’, Institute of Contemporary Indian Art (ICIA), Mumbai (all in 2009). His noteworthy participations are 'The Miniature Format Show', Sans Tache Gallery, Mumbai (2009); 43rd National Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Lucknow (2004); ‘Harmony Show’, Nehru Centre, Mumbai (2004); ‘Winter Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art’, Gallerie 88, Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi (2002); ‘Harmony Show’, Nehru Centre, Mumbai (2002, 01); and ‘42nd National Exhibition of Art’, Jaipur and Delhi (2000).

The artist has several honors and awards including The Commonwealth Art and Craft Award, United Kingdom (2003-04); The Charles Wallace India Trust Art Award, Glasgow (2003); The 65th All India Exhibition of Art, Amritsar (1999); Annual Award of Avantika, 7th All India Exhibition, New Delhi (1999); Scholarship Award of AIFACS, Delhi (1998); and Government College of Arts and Crafts, Kolkata (1992,’94,’96); among others. Born in a non-descript village in the state of West Bengal, he finds it easier to associate with the rustic, rural people who constitute a large chunk of the Indian population. He strives to fulfill what he earnestly feels to be his duty as a socially conscious artist: acquainting us with his perception of the global situation as it evolves today.

Whether one terms him a printmaker or painter hardly matters to him for what’s of more significance is the impact whether it’s sketching, painting, serigraphy or even 3 dimensional works, they just serve as a means to underline his intent and ideas and to maximize the overall effect of his works. The choice of media tends to depend on its ability to produce the end result and impact of the particular subject matter he has in mind. He has worked in a wide array of media like acrylics, pencil, watercolors, oils, pastels, and the 3 dimensional employing moulds, mirrors, glass etc, among others. Serigraphy is his favorite medium, as it lets him place an image of his choice anywhere. Since he doesn’t usually harbor a preconceived n, it s allows him to make changes even later on.

His work is akin to a realistic dialogue related to what he feels at a given point of time, a sort of extension of his own mindset. The found images and other visual inputs are somewhat autobiographical and photographic at times – resembling personal and archetypal iconography. Often he reuses and transfigures these images, to manipulate them according to demands of each piece. His works are elaborately titled, which he sees s a very important element of his thought process.

Focusing on sensitive socio-political issues, consumerism, fundamentalism and the identity of mankind through his oeuvre, he feels, Indianness doesn’t reside in traditional influences but more in an intrinsic evolving Indian sensibility. No surprise, his themes are related to instances or issues pertaining to ‘real’ India – revisiting the idea of unity and our deep-rooted culture.