By Kedar Mishra
He felt his soul leave his body, rise upward into the dome, becoming part of it; part of space, of time, of heaven, and of God. This is how Irving Stone finished his famous bio-fiction “Agony and Ecstasy” based on the creative life of Italian genius Michelangelo. Every artist lives a part of his/her life in her work.
After watching Aparna Mohanty’s solo painting show “Agony, Ecstasy and Fantasy” in a centrally located Coffee joint of Bhubaneswar, I was forced to dust out Irving Stone’s masterpiece from my bookshelf and to know what exactly this agony and ecstasy can make meaning to my time.
Of course Aparna is not Roman Michelangelo, but an Odia girl, stretching lines and sprinkling colors on board at least for last one decade, living the life in a small city and taking care of her kitchen and studio. Yes, I look at her work as the byproduct of a common woman who lives multi layered changes of her city and from there she picked up a crowd of images. Her works are generally crowded.
In a space of A4 size canvas she can line up many events, images, illusions, dreams, devastations and decorations of her city. There is some sense of romanticism when she talks about nostalgia. The little girl in jumping rope, the street side Gupchup shop, the charcoal black vehicles and a stream of living imagery make you romantically nostalgic. She chronicles the city of Bhubaneswar from different angles, from different viewpoints and also from numerous life zones.
There is a perfect harmony of reality and dream in most of her works. As I said earlier, her works are crowded, but she knows the art of making a crowd harmonious. One can feel the economy of her lines. Hardly has she wasted a dot or a small line for nothing. She is a wonderful manager of miniatures. Many of her contemporaries look for grand and vast portrayal of their creativity, but Aparna is content with her small-microscopic details.
Finally the exhibition space needs a special mention. The show is not displayed in a traditional gallery, but in a coffee shop. BOCCA which stands for Books, Office, Café, Culture and Arts is the space where you can look at Aparna’s work.
I feel a bit awkward to stand by young boys and girls in their teen and to satiate my visual hunger. At least I should not trespass into their privacy, but that is how art has to go in our new cities. Painting has to be a part of this crowd and one must remember art is nothing but the celebration of life.
I am back to my world from Aparna’s world of agony, ecstasy and fantasy and my take away from the show is unlimited ecstasy only.
(Kedar Mishra is a freelance writer and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)