Thursday, December 17, 2009

Contemporary art in Odisha has escaped the Odia eye sight!!

Art in contemporary Odisha is in search of a direction. One who understands the state, its varied visual culture and historic progression, is struggling to reclaim the context, as I do. Essentially it does not mean that I am claiming myself as an authority but my long association as an artist and art historian engaged in writing and analysis of art has provoked me to re-think the context of art in contemporary Odisha.

After reading and writing considerably on contemporary art in Odisha, now it feels (for several reasons) that art in contemporary Orissa has gone no where beyond the temple sculptures and traditional consequences. Let me put it like this, media has been proactive these days and a layman understands the popular visual language through them. The other day, all the local news channels got together to document the visit of the President of India to Puri and Konark. This news covering her successful visit was followed by a mishap at the air port. As a tail piece, the news regarding the sand sculpture of the President Pratibha Patil was prepared by Sudarshan Patnaik on the beach, caught my attention.

Contemporary art in Odisha is in practice since late 1950s and many artists have resolved to the creative practice since then. There has been a unilateral development in the art field which involves the individual artists without any support from the state. Even the institutions have succumbed to the bureaucratic struggle and incompetence. Even then artists like Dinanath Pathy, Chandrasekhar Rao, DN Rao, Baladev Maharatha from the veteran group; Ramahari Jena, Adawit Gadnayak, Jagannath Panda, Pratul Dash and Tapan Dash, Ashok Nayak, Pradosh Swain, Paresh Choudhury, Deepak Harichandan, Ajay Mohanty and Manoj Mohanty, Sambit Panda, Kantakishore Moharana, Anjan Sahoo, Birendra Pani, Sudhanshu Sutar, Prashant Sahu, Alok Bal and many others lead the young generation have been fairly active contributing to the contemporary art field in their own capacities. The state of recognition in Orissa for these artists have become negligent and even the media is not aware of their activities. These artists have earned name in the international sphere but at home they are helpless as they perhaps may not prepare a sand sculpture or traditional stone carving in most populist way. The artist community especially the visual artists are unable to fit themselves into the media forum as they are busy doing creative global deals. No news paper from print media or the electronic channel has covered them as they have done to Sudarshan Patnaik. Its not only Sudarshan Patnaik has not alone participated in the international symposiums, even these mentioned artists have not only participated but also catalyst in organising art events globally. Think of the Bakul Art Foundation, which has successfully brought in young artists together but also delivered in transforming the viewers in participatory values. Even the Stand up and Speak by Ashok Art Gallery promoting the odia artists in Art summits, Art Expo and Fairs in India.

It clearly reflects the awareness cramp in our media and public. Lalit Kala Akademi in Odisha is struggling to have a sensitive Secretary who could sensitise about the function of art. We need to sensitise our people and media should update itself to deliver the creative aspect of art instead of making halla about the tradition. Our heritage is extremely rich and varied which donot need further popularity except for research. Please let us come to the day than to live in the past or a day would come when we would end up just being outdated. I don’t disrespect the past but at least I can afford to live in the past. I even don’t defy the act of Sudarshan or his art but what I expect is the contemporary awareness. Then perhaps one can contribute to the present of art situation in Contemporary Odisha.
Is someone listening?