Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Our salute to Somnath Hore , one of the foremost peoples' artist of our time .

Ashok Bhowmick
In his Tebhaga Diary, Somnath Hore (1921-2006) recorded the activities of landless peasants , landlords, black marketeers , hoarders , political activists, children and women against the backdrop of historical ' Tebhaga Movement ' . Being an art college student and an activist , he not only narrated the details of this movement , also recorded the events in his sketch book . His powerful sketches that complimented the text of Tebhaga Diary are an important part of the history of progressive art movement of India . Though on your visit to the National Gallery of Modern Art ( New Delhi ) you find a separate section for the artists belonging to Progressive Artist Group (1947- 1056) . I have always looked into such ' branding' by NGMA , as a part of a dubious design to promote ( or market ) some select artists as 'progressives' by the 'government- gallery- auction house' nexus .
We will talk on this issue some other day ! Here is a woodcut by Somnath Hore, showing the close door strategy meeting of political activists and peasant leaders during the movement . The lamp placed in the center of the room is the only source of light ( reminding us of ' The Potato eaters ' by Van Gogh) not only creating large shadows on the walls of the hut , but also highlighting the chill of the weather ! Being a print (woodcut) , we do not expect grey areas in between blacks and whites , but this work of master printer Somnath Hore creates the magic by using the strokes of different thickness and we see the light ( whites) fading out as it goes away from the light source ( though invisible in this woodcut ) . For this effect , he has masterly etched ( almost cross hatched ) the textured walls of the hut in a way that we can feel the light diminishing at the edges of the painting ! We also locate the artist in this painting as a non participating member of this meeting , sitting in the dark and outside the circle !
Our salute to Somnath Hore , one of the foremost peoples' artist of our time .

Ashok Bhowmick's photo.
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