Artists portray themes as different as power struggle and women empowerment.

Tata Steel made its foray into Orissa's art activities this month by hosting a regional art camp and exhibition in Bhubaneswar. The event, which the Tatas have promised to make a national affair next year here, featured 24 artists — both veterans and the promising — from Orissa, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. The thrust being on promotion of Orissan artists, most of the artists were from Orissa.

Veteran Oriya artists featured in the four-day camp that concluded with an exhibition of the works created during the camp included Durga Prasad Das, D.N. Rao, Siba Panigrahi, Baladev Maharatha and Byomakesh Mohanty. Das, formerly principal of the prestigious Khallikote Government College of Art, had a brilliant portrayal of the Spanish bull fight in his work to show power struggle in the society and how the common man watches it helplessly. The beauty of his work was the force that Das could poignantly portray in the still image of an animal on canvas. Similarly, Maharatha's portrayal of women's exploitation — a subject closer to his heart — that painted a woman juxtaposed with the ferocious face of a tiger.

The painting that stood out for its instant appeal was the portrait of a woman by Benaras-based acclaimed artist S. Pranam Singh. Singh simply attempted to paint the beauty and innocence of a simple Indian woman and that was the hallmark of his work. The graphic art of Yusuf from Bharat Bhawan, Bhopal were also impressive. Delhi-based Tapan Das and Milan Das from Patna were the two other noted painters whose works were well appreciated.

The event showcased several promising artists like Kshetrabasi Mohanta who specialises on painting of tribal life and intelligently uses scripts of the Santhali tribal language as his motifs in each of the works. One, however, wondered why this exhibition did not feature any women artist from the state. The lone women painter was Shubhra Chand from Delhi whose abstract work of art was a part of her series on aerial view nature.