Life & Style

Popular with young collectors, Shyamal Mukherjee’s series Baba and Bibi is now on display in Chennai

Baba and Bibi

Baba and Bibi | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Artist Shyamal Mukherjee has one aim: he wants every home, in every nation to possess his works. And, a pudgy, middle aged couple in vibrant clothes is helping him do just that. The couple in question: Baba and Bibi, a series of paintings that shot Shyamal to fame.

Shyamal Mukherjee

Shyamal Mukherjee | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

So far clients from 36 countries — Europe to China — own his works. “These are all countries I travelled to, to showcase my paintings at exhibitions,” says Shyamal, who is in Chennai for an exhibition at Soul Spice Art Gallery. “I have done 51 solo exhibitions around the world and around seven in Chennai,” states the Kolkata-based artist, adding that for him, each of his creations is like something he has given birth to and that is why it makes him happy when they find good homes for themselves.

Shyamal studied at Santiniketan and did his Masters in Fine art from the Rabindra Bharati University. He has been painting for the last 42 years. “ Nesha theke pesha hoye geche,” he says in Bengali, which roughly translates to “from passion and addiction it has become my profession.” He started the Baba and Bibi series in 1997. “At that point I was making separate paintings of the man and wife. But then people wanted them in one frame. So I started putting them together,” he says. These works depict the simple, married couple in different moods, doing everyday things. It could be anything from buying fish, playing with birds, enjoying a boat ride. Now, in a nod to the ongoing pandemic, this couple even has masks on.

Shyamal says he does constant research on the folk arts of Bengal and continues to draw inspiration from them. Having spent a lot of time travelling across South India, he is inspired by the bright colours of the Southern States as well. His works are resplendent with tones of yellow, red, green, orange, pink, cobalt blue, and a smattering of white. He uses a reverse oil or acrylic painting technique for this series, where he draws the image in reverse.

Since 97, Shyamal says Baba and Bibi are all he has been drawing. “This style and these paintings have brought me recognition. People take one look at it and know it’s Shyamal’s creation,” he says. After creating hundreds of these, does he ever run out of ideas? “No, even when I am working on one, I have ideas floating around, calling out to me, ‘Look at me, look at me!” he chuckles, adding that he next he wants to paint the couple in rickshaws and vintage cars.

The exhibition is on till July 15 at Soul Spice Art Gallery, 21/11, First Main Road, CIT Colony, Mylapore.


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Printable version | Jul 11, 2022 3:40:51 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/poplar-with-young-collectors-shyamal-mukherjees-series-baba-and-bibi-is-now-on-display-in-chennai/article65610600.ece