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Sukanta Basu



“I am a Painter” he says with a sense of an intimate identification with everything it means to be one. Sukanta Basu graduated from the College of Arts, Calcutta in 1954.

He spent time thereafter doing what one would call 'survival jobs' to sustain himself. Finally a post as Conservator at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi enabled him to dwell with art and find space as a solo artist. Until 1999 he presented his works at solo shows in (former) Bombay and Delhi. The Indian art circuit is indebted towards his efforts of introducing Art Restoration in this society. He returned to Calcutta in 2003 and worked on more paintings which emerged as an exhibited collection of approx. 30-40 works by 2007. The small-sized works were largely acrylic on board or paper. On feeling more settled in Calcutta, he now goes back to communicating through larger canvases.

Basu's non-representational engagement with art bestows him with peculiar concerns and predicaments. He has soaked himself in task of discovering the grammar of art independent of words. 'Art does not need words to support its final point.' Colours have within themselves an inherent vocabulary, they have a telling voice which is capable of articulating states of mind and emotions. A poet arranges words which picture the patterns of the mind. Similarly art, through a juxtaposition of colours can 'create an emotional situation'.

Does this make art mystical or unreachable to common man? Not at all, 'art is not a mathematical proposition to be solved'. It is non-rational and down to earth, where emotions originate through beings that dwell in it. Deciphering and 'mastering the visual language takes decades of struggle and understanding', which Basu still considers himself short of having achieved. The transparency of colours communicates something familiar. It's like 'the naïve eye looking at nature, it involves a direct response to what one cognizes'.

Of course that requires one to pause, and listen not just to words but also the silences which string them together. It requires a certain cultivated patience, which this society is selling out to rapid technological development. Perhaps the lack of patience and a willing eye, keeps this society from receiving Basu's aesthetic wisdom.




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