Impressions of Oriya culture through the canvases of veteran and budding artists.

Mounted at the Orissa Modern Art Gallery in Bhubaneswar, the ongoing exhibition of paintings by 25 Orissan artists gives glimpses of the works of a number of lesser-known but gifted painters of the State while offering a rare opportunity to peep at the precious works of late legendary painter Chandrasekhar Rao and established artists like Baladeb Maharatha, Dipti Mohanty and Siba Panigrahi.

What transpires following a panoramic glance at the exhibits is that like the life of the people in Orissa, the works of its artists — the new generation painters in particular — are still unalloyed expressions of their sentiments and still untouched by abstraction. Despite the exposure of these painters to the modern trends and techniques of international art scenario, they still love to remain rooted to their soil and tradition and paint matters closer to their hearts.

In the works of Khetrabasi Mahanta and Kalandi Muduli, tribal life and motifs dominate the canvas having been born and brought up in a region that is rich in tribal culture. Similarly, Raghunath Sahoo and Shyam Sundar Rao are fascinated by Buddhism that flourished in Orissa centuries ago. Pramod Mallick is struck by the legendary love of Krishna and Radha that is abundantly found in Oriya literature and folklore.

Dipti Mohanty, who studied art at Benaras Hindu University and has been a faculty member there now, paints the ancient ghats of Benaras for which he is famous. Similarly, Arun Pallur prefers to paint the rustic village life amidst which he grew up. Its memories still pervade the imagination of this artist stationed in a city today. Tarakant Parida, owner of Orissa Modern Art Gallery, paints the mythical cow called Kamadhenu and links it to the present trend of consumerism.

Mamata Samantray, and Lipishree Nayak — both emerging as promising woman painters of Orissa — have also painted issues closer to their hearts like senior woman artist Chitra Patnaik and budding artist Jayashree. While Mamata and Chitra have dealt with women's life, nature is all pervasive in Lipishree's and Jayashree's canvas.

As usual, Baladeb Maharatha, Siba Panigrahi, Gouranga Bariki, Manas Jena, Nikunja Behari Das and Minaketan Patnaik — all familiar names for the artists' fraternity and art connoisseurs of Orissa — have been wisely included in the exhibition that seeks to showcase a panoramic picture of Orissa's contemporary art scene.

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