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Feel of reality

Sisir Sahana's latest sculptures in glass and paintings show the metamorphosis occurring in society.

HIS DEXTROUS fingers mould, cast and shape glass as if it is as malleable as clay. The volume of work is tedious yet exciting. Sisir Sahana explores the world around him through glass. How the environment conditions the mind and sensibilities of the artist is evident in his works which may be frozen in time — `fossilised' in glass. Time may stand still, yet it reflects movement. The artist may have moved to an urban milieu but his bucolic backdrop lingers although it undergoes a metamorphosis. Yet he is in touch with his roots. It is difficult to capture the dimensions of change in a medium like glass. Therein lies the creativity of the artist. And Sahana creates this change which is symptomatic in society, the manifestation being the exhibition Geosocial Reality — The transformation, a visual treat to the eye. This exhibition is being held till today at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (6th floor). It is in fact a preview of his exhibits which will travel for an exposition to Gallery Ganesha, New Delhi from September 12 for a almost a month.

Change is inevitable in a society marching ahead. Development brings with it certain perils — urbanisation, decrease in land ratio, environmental degradation, concrete structures and so on. But often the villager is unable to grapple with the sweeping changes affecting his land and family. This is what Sahana poignantly recreates in glass — delicate relationships in a fragile medium as well on canvas. Nature sees devastation and havoc with hard times for the son of the soil — the farmer. The man-nature-animal relationship — the harmonious co-existence is envisaged along with new elements in the city-scape — appearance of buildings, new residential areas, roads and so on (outlined in greater detail in the paintings). Concomitant societal changes in the form of the `rising' of the girl child too figure. One girl/woman is seen in almost all sculptures or paintings With characteristic faces, leaves, branches and other features - simple elements (which include the plough), Sahana is able to juxtapose the past and present skilfully. The plight of the villager caught in the warp between tradition and modernity is in frieze frame. The paintings also introduce a bit of drawing to tell the same tales. All this is indicative of Sahana's touch with his roots (he hails from a village in Bankura district in West Bengal). It is but natural to see the transformation - here the artist does it creatively.

Be it a wall hanging (innovatively done and well-supported), a panel/partition, small details are looked into (for example flowers with impressions of droplets of water in opaque and coloured glass). These may seem minuscule but they add a third dimension to the `still life'. Working out textures is also a hard task but Sahana has mastered it. A portrait of Rabindranath Tagore in cast glass at the entrance reminds you of the visionary poet who lives on despite being frozen in time with an `inscription' in Bengali. The dexterity of creation is to be admired.

Those familiar with the artist's earlier works may see the continuity in terms of the basic form and colour. A few new elements are introduced. The hanging panels are novel. A touch of purple and reddish brown hues are introduced along with some forms to break the monotony and tedium for the visitor as well as the artist. Sahana fashions a big column — screens with motifs of the past are placed alongside a mirror which reflects contemporaneity. He finds it fascinating to reflect reality although it is a laborious and painstaking process.

The subject is not new in terms of choice but in terms of treatment. The artist may be limited by his medium. After all one cannot show the gamut of human emotions on glass. It is a wide canvas. Similarity can be boring at times. Life has to be infused in the works. Creativity is an ongoing process and the artist may consider moving on in terms of themes though he is technically well equipped to handle any subject given the restrictions of the medium.


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