Magnifique Rural Bengal Exhibition featuring prints of Haren Das
Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts has organised an art exhibition, featuring the works of noted Indian printmaker Haren Das (1921-1993) and his son Chandan Das.
Haren Das was a multitalented printmaker who worked almost exclusively in engraving, linocut, etching and lithograph. Throughout his life, Das produced many woodcuts and wood engravings -- demonstrating different kinds of techniques. He would often deliberate over a single piece of print, searching for perfection. His works are technique-oriented. Lighting is a well-known feature in his prints and the artist generally preferred glowing light and mystifying setting.
Das observed rural life not only with his own eyes, but also with his heart. He observed villagers' daily chores and the surroundings, and lost himself in the rural setting. He grew up in Dinajpur and his works are a nostalgic reflection of his childhood days.
In the 1940s and 50s, when his contemporaries were busy capturing social and political dilemmas in their art, Das portrayed peaceful and scenic beauty of rural Bengal.
At the exhibition, Das' works highlight panorama, everyday life, fishing, cultivation and more. His in-depth observation helped him explore the ins and outs of the themes. Black is the predominant shade in his works and the printmaker experimented with layers of this particular tone. He used muted colours where man was seen as working in harmony with nature so that the farmers, fishermen, villagers, milkmen, boatmen and common people were seen as the triumphant heroes.
His “With Her Property” depicts a street beggar walking towards the unknown with her belongings. The print shows the beggar carrying a mat, shoes, comb, broom, bottle and other articles on her shoulder. A dog also accompanies her.
“After the Rain”, a litho, portrays two teenagers hooking fish on the bank of a pond. Adding a watery effect to the work, the artist created another dimension. A coconut tree bending over the pond and the entire atmosphere look scenic. The artist deftly articulated the 'just after the rain' ambiance.
“Milking” depicts a woman milking a cow. “Across the Stream” portrays a bamboo bridge over a canal in a rural setting. The image is marked by big trees and lush greenery. The woodcut also features a villager crossing the bridge and two villagers busy with their daily chores.
“At Water Edge”, one of his best woodcuts, was done in 1958. The image shows two teenage girls chatting on the bank of a shallow river. Water lilies and varied water plants give an impressionistic look to the work.
A number of Chandan Das' works delineate serenity and emptiness where he mainly focuses on pure forms and compositions. After observing the prints (wood engraving, lino and etching) closely, one can enjoy the magnificence of simplicity. At the exhibition, Das' works clearly reveal his fondness for oval and round forms.
As an abstract expressionist, the printmaker incorporates varied colours. His colours and shapes create many images and the prints appear soft and warm.
Das is presently teaching at the Government College of Art and Craft in Kolkata, Paschimbanga. He has participated in several major international exhibitions, including Intergrafik in Germany, Egyptian International Print Triennale, Bharat Bhavan Biennale of Contemporary Indian Art in Bhopal, Maltwood Art Museum, the Inter Nordic Graphic Art Exhibition in Norway and more.
The exhibition will continue till October 22.