Colours Speak — the recently concluded state-level art exhibition at the Orissa Modern Art Gallery in Bhubaneswar by the students of six art colleges of the state — was a fitting tribute to former president of Orissa Lalit Kala Akademi and founder of the Orissa Art Education Foundation (that hosted the event) Asit Mukherjee who passed away earlier this year. An acclaimed artist and book cover designer, Mukherjee was an activist who was constantly campaigning for art education and awareness in Orissa and was quite concerned about the future of aspiring artists.

The exhibition showcased the works of 51 budding artists and the title of the exhibition was apt as the colours, textures and compositions of most of the art work spoke volumes of their potential. It was also heartening to observe that the girls outshined the boys in the show — not only in numbers (there were 29 female artists) but in quality and variety as well. It is a good omen for Orissa, as it has very few women painters.

Most of the works on display were acrylic on canvas though there were wood cut prints, tempera, and water and oil colour paintings as well. Those who excelled in their compositions with acrylic works included Jharana Das, Prajna Nayak, Jyotsnapriya Biswal and Mitarani Mohapatra (all from Bhadrak College of Art and Craft); Jayashree Jena and Ganesh Singh (both from Dhauli Art College, Bhubaneswar), Kaustav Sa (Kalayatana, Sundargarh) and Mohini Mahanta (Balasore). Sundargarh’s Saudamini Das Sarma was superb in her texture while Rajendra Meher of the same college was brilliant in his use of colours. There was an encouraging participation in the wood cut section and all the six participants were women artists from Balasore College of Art and Craft. Of them the works of art by Laxmipriya Panigrahi, Srufala and Susubhana Patra stood out. However, the oil colour segment was disappointing with just one participant — Srimanta Das of Sundargarh.

We seldom come across artists opting for water colours these days. Against this depressing backdrop, it was a pleasure to come across four female artists of Keonjhar Art College opting for the medium. In fact, Heropama Mahanta’s portrayal of a busy road in water colour was the most outstanding works of the exhibition.

The show, however, was conspicuous by the fact that the two major art colleges of the state — Government College of Art and Craft, Khallikote and B.K. College of Art and Craft, Bhubaneswar did not participate.