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Images of rural simplicity

An exhibition by artist Sandip Manna showcased in appealing visuals the beauty of West Bengal’s villages.

Ankita Sarkar | Kolkata |

If our surroundings are observed a little more minutely, we come across moments and objects of distinct beauty even amidst day-to-day, mundane lives. Such things which each one has their own way of perceiving are comprised of art.

An art exhibition “Maatir Taane” was held recently at Gaganendra Shilpa Pradarshanshala, Kolkata. The exhibition by artist Sandip Manna gave a glimpse of the rural Bengal and supported artists from the remote villages of the state. Manna showcased the pure and authentic stories of rural Bengal through his watercolour paintings.

About 30 extraordinary watercolour paintings done by him were displayed at the exhibition and each of them told a story about rural Bengal. Such a painting titled The Mother shows an old lady holding her son’s dead body on her lap after he was killed in a political massacre. Some of the other paintings included The Homecoming, The Wounded Goddess and The Artists among others. The art exhibition was inaugurated by actor Barun Chanda.

This was followed by the lighting of the lamp by Chanda in presence of artists Subrata Gangopadhyay and Wasim Kapoor, and Sushanta Ghosh, chairman of Borough XII, KMC. The exhibition also witnessed presence of many important personalities like Debanjan Deb (IAS), Sudheer P (IPS), sarod exponent Arnab Bhattacharya, Satish Kumar (IAS), Debashis Kumar, members Mayor in Council KMC; Indranil Sen, singer and minister of state for information and cultural affairs department.

The inauguration of the art exhibition was followed by the unveiling of an outstanding painting on rural Bengal by Manna. This painting showcased the mystic minstrels (baul) of Bengal. Manna’s noble initiative to uplift the rich cultural diversity and heritage of West Bengal through the medium of paintings is indeed laudable. In the recent years rural society has undergone a lot of political changes and land agitations but their cultural identities still remains strong and united.

Manna conveyed his gratitude to Rajya Charukala Parshad and the information and cultural affairs department of the West Bengal government for supporting his cause. When asked regarding the theme of the exhibition and how the idea came about, he said, “I was born and bought up in a village. I studied there. My village is my biggest source of inspiration of the subjects I bring alive on my canvas. Very much struck by the idea of outdoor paintings, I roam around from village to village, capturing their various images on my canvas with the strokes of brushes.

When it comes to nature I always relate to villages — the blue sky, the greenery around and calm breeze.” He further said that he is painting since the eighth standard and has visited many villages like Shantiniketan, Nathra and Deula among others for doing outdoor paintings. Manna’s journey was not easy. He has spent his childhood in immense poverty. He began his career as an independent artist after getting the formal training in Fine Art from Birla Academy of Arts. His upcoming projects of oil painting will be exhibited in December as “Katha O Kahini” based on the unknown stories of Hindu mythology.