Jayanta Bhattacharya is a well known name in the field of art in North East of India. Being immediate neighbors Jayanta and I usually bump into each other. I mostly see him working on his canvas or taking an evening stroll.
Whenever we meet we talk a lot about his ongoing exhibitions, future tours and his latest work. Time to time he invites me to have a look at his work. He even shares some of the finest books related to art. On one such meeting last week he invited me again. Next day as i was about to leave my house i saw the crew members of the most popular regional TV channel making their way to his house and i remembered that he had mentioned that he is going to be interviewed by famous art critic and writer Mousumi Kandali. I decided to wait for a day and visited him the next day. By his permission i am going to share with you some of his art work and the conversation we had that day.
(Black Goat - he is presently working on this painting)
Born in Tuichindrai, a small tribal village of Tripura, Jayanta grew up in a lower middle class joint family. He grew up at a time (80s) when the state was passing through turbulent times due to the community clashes between the Tribals and Bengalis of Tripura.The continuous riots,curfew and violence had a profound affect on Jayanta who was then only a child. Later in 2002 he passed out from the Govt College of Art & Craft. During college he started writing for local newspapers, published magazine like Muktodhara and also initiated workshops and street exhibitions. His restless mind made him travel the country like a vagabond. He visited Shantiniketan and many other places. Not having found what his mind knew not, he spent time with in the interior tribal villages of Tripura, isolating himself from the rest of the world. He kept no contact with anyone. He lived amongst them and was deeply affected by their lives and their art forms. In 2004 he came to Assam and took an art teaching job in a very prestigious educational institute of Guwahati. Seven months back he left his job so that he can devote more time to his only passion-painting!
(The Road -Black Pitch & Metal)
This is how Mousumi Kandali speaks about his work. Moushumi is a renowned writer,art-critic and translator.
'Abstracted thoughts. Innate lyricism. Minimalistic rendering with layered sparks of sensuousness and eroticism hidden beneath. And reflexive gestures about the socio-political implications of our space and time overwhelmed by violence, turmoil and hostile social systems. These are the underlying artistic currents and undercurrents I experience whenever I see the works of Jayanta Bhattacharya. For my curatorial exhibition of the North-Eastern artists for the Octave Festival organised by Rastriya Lalit Kala Akademy and Govt. of India (Trivundum,2008) young turks Jayanta Bhattacharya and Mrinmoy Debbarma were my choice of artist along with the senior artist Dipika Saha from Tripura. I included Jayanta's "The Road ", an experimental sculpture-installation. This work ( Black Pitch & Metal) has captured the uncertainty and terror of our time very meaningfully with certain motifs like the manhole, impressions of bare feet and boots and strains of bullet marks'.....
In Jayanta's own words - "There is nothing much to say about myself. Compared to the endless spectrum of ever changing human civilization, my quantum of experience is minuscule. By birth i have been naturally acquainted with certain words - certain sensations were within me ever since birth and now they are a part of me. I feel myself bound and tied down by the troubled and restless mental state created by today's world.
(Titled :Dragonflies over a smoked city)
Through these turbulent times, i walk across the busy footpath, the over bridge above, the railway track, shopping malls, playgrounds and parade grounds. I watch the setting sun through the small window of the city bus. As i walk along the road in the scorching sun, my eyes fall on the cut pieces of watermelon, sparkling a bright red.
Sometimes the sounds of shots ringing in the night air jolt me out of my dreams. I remember ....years ago, i had gone with grandma to cast my vote for the first time. Some elderly people had thrust chocolates into my hand then. Grandma, me and an endless road....
(Mural by Jayanta)
The road to dad's office would be strewn with the yellow flowers of the Golden shower trees. On that yellow road,i had ,at times walked with my dad.....dad, the golden yellow flowers, the road and me. The rat-a-tat-a tat of bullets wake me up and through the haze i see a road, shells of spent cartridges, boot marks and some dry leaves....rustling."
Later he talked a lot about Tracey Amin, he suggested me reading more about her. Further he told me about the works of Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor. He gave me two books to read from his personal collection one is A World History Of Art and the other The Contemporary Art Book. He is into short movie making too.