Art But on a Different Canvas

Kolkata has enjoyed its share of brilliance in art. Right from Abanindranath Tagore to Bikash Bhattacharjee and Jogen Chowdhury, there has been a long line of illustrious painters who have done the city proud. But increasingly budding artists are no longer limiting their art to bare canvas but to everyday items, turning the mundane into work of art and widening the concept of home décor and customised wardrobe. From T-shirts to aluminium kettles, chillums to walls and even bags and shoes, they customise almost everything under the sun with eye-popping effect. Read on to discover more about these artists and the challenges they face in implementing their unique business proposition

“I started my career by painting chillums and with only `100 as capital. From there I went on to do murals, merchandises, music videos, concept events and much more. I customise just about anything that customers demand and that has basically been the motto of Chillum Ink,” explained Rahul Chakraborty, the man behind Chillum Ink.
“I’ve worked as a make-up artist and a set designer but nothing appealed to me more than the free hand abstract painting that I do now, which in a way has become my identity. I paint kettles, lamp shades, walls and a lot of it is used by the short film makers of Kolkata,” said Sharmila Dutta, who used to work with Chillum Ink but now collaborates with Nilava Das and have teamed up to set up Color Blot.

But often, reaching out to people with commercial or pop art is not the only lookout for artists as Prarthito Banerjee of Oink pointed out, “I consider myself a street artist and Oink is only a mean to support my primary interest. Majority of my works were done at Himachal Pradesh and Goa, where I’ve met people from foreign countries. Right now I’m working on getting some pieces together and organise an exhibition.”

While works of famous painters like Van Gogh, Picasso, Edvard Munch, etc have always inspired artists worldwide, it is their individual creativity which helps them to see beyond the obvious. Perhaps the ability to deconstruct daily life by creating meaningful works of art is what truly drives these artists but again, the opportunity to showcase is hard to come by. Kolkata might be a hub of culture but people are yet to generously reward the hard work of these artists. “Kolkata is yet to catch up with other cities. There are more opportunities now compared to the time I started out but still it is not enough. Right now I’m planning to shift my base to a more economically viable city,” said Rahul Chakraborty.

“Intellectually, Kolkata’s potential is limitless. We are born to read good books and appreciate art but not yet at a commercial level. I’ve done projects with a good pay in other cities but here I’m yet to gain appreciation from monetary angle,” confided Prarthito whereas Sharmila said that an artist must know how to deal with clients. Though she is yet to receive full payments for her work from a well known club of Kolkata, she remains optimistic that the scene is changing with a lot of DIY activities; “DIY events have been growing in numbers across the city and they provide more scope to interact with a lot of new people. They have their unique challenges and can help an artist grow,” she added. Similar thoughts were shared by Rahul Chakraborty, who regularly organises DIY events under the banner of Cultyard which promotes upcoming artists of the city.

In order to get their art appreciated, an artist has to evoke a connection with their patrons. As Prarthito said that as a street artist he can either choose to adorn a wall with pale hues of time or paint something visually stimulating for the people passing by to take notice.

Clearly, it is not only enough to keep the creative juices flowing but also gain monetary success as well. Now, the onus is on the people of Kolkata to keep this new form of art alive in the city by supporting these extremely talented artists.

Sharmila Dutta
+91 8334054085
Notebooks – Rs 300
Wall Paint – Rs 70-100 per sq ft
Illustration and graphics – Rs 1500-2000

Prarthito Banerjee
+91 9830524414
Pricing will solely depend on the idea and design

Rahul Chakraborty
+91 9874870791
Pricing starts from Rs 150 per sq ft for wall paint

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