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Nostalgia in Arpan Bhowmik’s Art by Dr Satarupa Bhattacharya

Several important contributions in the Arts have stemmed from Kolkata’s landscape and aesthetic oeuvre that have been coined into a visual language particular to the city’s history. Several important moments have been memorialised in this city reminding its inhabitants and visitors to value the minutest details of everyday life. Artist Arpan Bhowmik’s practice remembers these details in the most intricate fashion, elaborating the city’s beauty and history for his viewers to engage with. He extends a similar statement to other cities where he recreates monumental landmarks surrounded by the city’s busy hours and fast-paced lifestyle. He simmers these busy images to a single moment of relevant visual flavour incorporating the effects of time. These paintings simply broach the emphasis laid on one single moment while it stages the time of day and the effects of light and shadow – something that remains relevant in engaging with historical and geopolitical reflections. Therefore, Bhowmik’s work examines the elements of nostalgia and architecture. 

The most pertinent point in his work speaks of this moment in the Arts, where he consciously portrays the commute systems of a cityspace and he locates the pace that has become a marker for cityspaces. He breaks this pace down with artistic interventions and depicts the wilderness of the city against its own tranquil moments. The monochromatic colour palette bursts with energy as he places one bright colour to bring attention to the immediate moment. His subject then is valued in its energetic presence as seen in the public conveyance against the backdrop of an old architecture. The old architecture constructs the historical value attached to the place and reinstates the memories attached to it as well. 

Bhowmik’s love for watercolour paintings and Bengal’s renaissance artists are also exposed in his work. His inspiration in miniature is evident in the details that he creates in the architecture or the surrounding foliage. While realism is his most profound school of engagement, he does invoke practices of popular visual cultures as seen in noir films in the ’50s or ’60s cinema. Bengal’s cinema had a profound effect on the Arts and Bhowmik’s love for it is visible in his work. The culture of presenting mysterious and underlying circumstances were categorically heightened with monochrome palettes that accentuated the event’s cathartic moments. Bhowmik’s work too revisits these catharsis in the Arts where he establishes the tranquil moments as a reminder of the events that have led us to it. Interestingly, these metaphorically placed nuances are important to look at how the city encapsulates space and the ways in which it has come to source its essential definitions. 

Bystanders or passerbys become interesting elements to reflect on the architecture and the commute systems that had at one point of time been essential factors of city living. Today, the cityspace has acquired a newer idiom that goes beyond the giant literary figure Premchand’s depictions. Bhowmik’s cityspace reflects this newer idiom of tranquility before or past the rushed hours. He also draws the noon as a moment of repose where his city remains buried in the shadows of its architecture while the light shines through the brilliance of his subject or vehicle. 

His sculptures of the ambassador model with revisits to his beloved artists, such as Jamini Roy or Bikash Bhattacharya, are also relevant tools of reflection on his engagement with the Arts. These renditions are evocative of an apprised artistic language that is willing to indulge in stories. He may not be found articulating these stories but he is often found accounting his wonder at the world.

Bhowmik has been Easel Stories esteemed artist since 2015. Their long association has resulted in promoting his visual language across borders. Previously, they have been able to collaborate with various art galleries and associations in various countries to showcase his works. Places, like Dubai, Singapore, Rotterdam, Paris, Malaysia and New York, have all been sites showcasing his works. Their association has produced two solo exhibitions and several group shows. 

Now, they hope to expand Bhowmik’s viewership and reach to enable his journey as an artist and the wonderful person that he is. Easel Stories gallery has had the privilege of hosting him for various artist residencies, where he has created artworks and initiated interesting insights for his fellow artists and anyone interested in the arts. 

Akshay Chandra, the founder of Easel Stories art gallery, says, ” Our initiative to build artists’ platforms intends to broaden the artists’ journey, where they’re able to reach out to as many people as possible. Promoting their artistic pursuits and passion while promoting their philosophy and ideology has become an integral part of our gallery’s landscape. Our main motto is to provide ample opportunities and prospects for the artists of India to grow in every possible manner.”

 

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