Creating a first in Kolkata, the Vivekananda Park Athletic Club decided to take a chance this year by introducing #3dstreetpainting to the citizens of West Bengal at Durga Puja 2014. Honored to have been invited, this was the first Hindu religious festival I have participated in as a visiting artist. Thanks to urgings of my dear friends Sayak Mitra and Partha Dasgupta, I was thrilled to be part of Partha’s award winning puja pandal team this year. ‘Becoming Tilottama‘ (which means becoming Kolkata in Bengali) was the theme of the pandal, which is a large ‘art’ installation showcasing Partha’s wonderful design vision which housed and presented the goddess Durga & her administrators. Durga Puja has been a big event in India for decades, with millions of visitors arriving from all over India and around the globe to participate in the week of festivities. Over the years, modern art approaches have steadily been making headway in the designers’ presentations of the goddess for the public and new manners of presenting artistic ideas are now welcomed. Enter 3d street painting and you’ve got something very new for this festival.
Partha turned perception on it’s head by installing not only my ground painting but 3 more masterworks by Kolkata artists Diptish Ghosh and Santanu Mitra, which hung from the ceilings, depicting images as seen from far below. Lots of spacial boundaries being crossed in this installation! Including litho prints of traditional folk images, printed from presses that have been used in the neighborhood of the pandal for 100 years, the installation invited Kolkata to enjoy all that is Kolkata – from a local radio greeting soundtrack to the street rickshaws & monuments, to the holud (yellow) Ambassador taxi to Bengali film legend Uttam Kumar – icons and symbols that represent ‘that which is Kolkata’. I love this city and it’s residents so I made sure I did my best to represent those things that have endeared her to me from the very beginning……..and the city & media loved it!
Enjoyed by thousands, our ‘Tilottama’ pandal won 10 awards, including the APB ‘Blockbuster’ Award; plus I was awarded my very own ‘Mahanayak’ Award, which is a Durga version of an Oscar, signifiying Best Artist of the entire festival! Wow, what an honor to be recognized out of the hundreds of designers and artists who participated. I was thrilled to say the least! My hat’s off to everyone who drafted a sketch, hammered a nail, molded clay, lifted a paint brush, recorded a sound bite or strung up amazing luminous lighting. Each and everyone of the individuals involved in the pandal installations is a creator in their own right and deserve to be recognized as such.
My sincere thanks go the Vivekananda Park Athletic Club for sponsoring my participation & taking such good care of me! To Partha Dasgupta for his genius, kindess and guidance – you are amazing! To Diptish & Santanu for being such supportive & talented colleagues; to Surajit and Somagni who welcomed as one of the family and of course, to all my dear friends & ‘family’ in Kolkata who helped make this experience so memorable.