Shishir Gupta’s collection Ma in Burnt Sienna was not just an exhibition of a set of paintings but something that tells the story of self discovery. Gupta who is a noted author and journalist says, “I was busy doing so many other things that I didn’t know I had painting in me.” As debut, the works and the choice of colours looked promising but what touched the most was the deep philosophy that each pictures conveyed.
The dominant shade in each of the oil paintings was a fiery red bringing alive the halo that emanates from the Goddess, removing all the darkness and gloom that dwells on the face of the earth. The paintings reflected that Goddess Durga’s place is not only inside holy abodes especially carved out for her but amidst those spaces which belongs to the common men.
Conveying this idea, most of the pictures portrayed an empty sanctum with the Goddess outside under the unbound sky witnessing the usual sights in the lives of the ordinary. One of them shows an artist amidst a dim setting tirelessly making idols with all his dedication, unaware of the Goddess’ standing behind and blessing him.
Another picture shows anxiety in her calm eyes as she looks down up on a cow and her calf who feels trapped and suffocated amidst a city of high risers and factory towers. In contrast to the white bovines, the picture is completely in shades of oranges and vermilions communicating how the earth is gradually burning down into ashes. There were similar works showing the presence of Ma in the household that worships her image or deep within the soul of the little girl who is deified according to the tradition of Kumari puja (worshipping pre-pubescent girls).
One of his paintings that Gupta claims to be the closest to his heart shows the empty temple of a lavish zamindari palace. Rather she is dwelling inside a small pandal in the village amidst a huge gathering of the mass where the Goddess seems happier. Just like he expresses his opinion as a journalist, in case of paintings also he feels “It is my democratic right to express my desire to bring Maa out in the open and make her witness where the true spirit of our country lies.”
This is Gupta’s first exhibition and he hopes to dedicate the entire proceedings of it to the development of Parivarikee, a school for underprivileged children.
“This is my very small contribution to the school and I have decided that in future as well I will paint only for a cause,” he said.