Mrinal Kanti Gayen
Sub-cover artist, Arts Illustrated
‘So I am here again, peeping, as if through the peephole of a bioscope, to see the panoramic fleeting episodes of the Sundarban delta – the place where I was born and brought up till the end of my school days. All its impressions leave a mark that no one can measure by any so called authoritative standard. The impressions are the never-ending play of “is” and “is not” – a relentless marriage of “being” and “nothing’, or “void’ and “mass”, which is visible and invisible at the same time’.
Mrinal Kanti Gayen is an Assistant Professor at the Government College of Art and Craft, Kolkata. He has participated in various solo shows and group shows, and has been the recipient of several awards such as the National Academy Award, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, Government of India. His collections are part of reputed museums and private collections in India and abroad. If the language of sculpture has conventionally been emphasising mass and volume, then Mrinal challenges that notion. He works diligently on the possibilities of making his sculptures look more transparent and airy, and seemingly lessens the ‘visual weight’ of the sculptures.
Why do you do art?
My childhood was spent close to the Sunderbans, where I spent time playing on the river banks, writing my name in the sand. I observed how the water flowed and left a mark on the banks and imbibed the essence of the traditional Bengali cultural practices, which by then had all became sources of inspiration for me. I focused just on the feeling of loving art, through my intuition.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Comparing my timelines, five years ago, I would often wonder what my compositions should be like, what does nature look like, what would the texture of the foliage appear like? But now, I feel as though I am not so different from nature, that I am one with it. My works are filled with my energy wherever they go, so when they are displayed, even if I am not there, I am present in spirit! This is where I am presently, but five years from now, I would hope to feel more in tune with this intuitive feeling.
If you could meet your artistic hero/inspiration, who would that be?
There are several people who have inspired me towards art, at different levels and at different times of my life. As a child I would watch the workers decorating the puja mandapa and work on the idol. I would go to help them. Akhil Das and Subhash Pal, who were my batch-mates, were also my biggest inspirations and helped me nurture my ideas and my concepts.
Who or what keeps you company while you work - music or silence or sounds of everyday life or a pet?
When I work in my studio, I listen to music that is folk-like, related to fishing like Bhatiali music. My studio has a homely atmosphere, where my daughters come to give me food, or give me hugs; positive and familiar vibes help me work well. Sculptural work is quite difficult, and often needs support. That is why it is better to have a lot of positivity around me.
How would you want to be remembered?
As artists, we do not have to be different from other people, or society. I just want to reduce that particular difference. Artists need the society as much as society needs them. As much as I want to leave a mark in history, I also want to be part of everyone’s as well.