Huge response to Indian art in Hong Kong: Paresh Maity

By Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS,

New Delhi : Leading contemporary artist Paresh Maity, who is set to showcase his new body of works in Hong Kong in February, says Indian art gets a tremendous response there thanks to the global nature of audiences.

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A preview of Maity’s works will be on display in Chennai Wednesday before his 51st solo exhibition in Hong Kong’s Visual Arts Gallery. The spread includes water colours, mixed media, large format oil paintings and some drawings.

The West Bengal-born artist, who belongs to a brood of illustrious painters, is upbeat.

“I love showing in Hong Kong and Singapore. There is tremendous response for Indian paintings because Hong Kong has a global audience,” the artist told IANS in an interview here.

“My cache comprises 15 paintings, but there are no sculptures because they are difficult to carry,” he said.

Maity’s mammoth figurative sculptures in bronze have earned rave reviews in the international art circuit.

The Hong Kong cache, he said, is absolutely new and the art works have been culled from his own collection.

Maity had earlier hosted a solo exhibition in Hong Kong earlier in 2005.

The artist’s new works are mature, as he prefers to describe them. “They are minimalist in approach with lots of abstraction. They are slightly different from my earlier works because I have been trying out new styles and playing with subjects,” Maity said.

Born in 1965 in Tamluk of West Bengal’s East Midnapore district in, Maity graduated in fine arts from the Government College of Arts, Kolkata and completed his master’s from Delhi College of Art. Maity is married to artist Jayshree Burman, daughter of master modernist Sakti Burman.

His sheer mastery over mediums has got him a special place on the global art map. Maity has won awards and acclaim in the West, particularly in Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, France, Britain and the US.

Maity, who began as a landscape painter, graduated to figurative art and bright colours after moving to Delhi in 1989.

“In 1992, I visited Rajasthan for the first time by train and I was fascinated by people and the sights. After having watched Satyajit Ray’s ‘Sonar Kella’ (The Golden Fort), I was always curious about Rajasthan like any other Bengali.

“I went by train – and after the rain-laden skies and the rivers of Bengal, I suddenly saw the desert that did not have any colour, just sand. And then I saw the colourful women. It was hypnotic,” Maity recalled.

The artist started painting faces of people in Jaisalmer. “In the beginning, it was faces in which I wanted to depict the happiness and celebration of life. Later on, figures started dominating my paintings. The primary colours of Rajasthan became powerful,” Maity said.

Subsequently, the artist travelled to Venice, China, Egypt, Mexico and south of France – where he painted in series.

“In Venice and China, I painted landscapes and in Mexico, I drew people from the ruins of the Mayan civilisation, which was very similar to ancient civilisations of our country. In Egypt, I again culled my subjects from the rich history of the land,” he said.

Maity’s works alternate between series and standalone art, depending on his moods. “If I am fascinated by a place, I paint in series,” he said.

However, sculptures remain his childhood love. “As a child in Tamluk, I used to sculpt figures of gods and goddesses and sold them. Later in school, I was attracted to paintings. It was not possible to sculpt later years, but now I am back to solid art again,” Maity said.

The artist has expanded the scope of his art. Most of his recent works are large format – both paintings and sculptures that are almost monumental.

“Big art is for the public. I believe in art for masses and also art for art’s sake,” said the artist, who does not believe in gross commodification of art.

The artist has been influenced by European masters. “Early in my career, I was influenced by British landscape painters J.M.W. Turner and John Constable and later by Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh,” he said. His Indian idols are Jogen Chowdhury and Ganesh Pyne.

Maity is optimistic about the future of Indian contemporary art. “The new generation of artists are very open minded and creative. They are ready to experiment. After all contemporary artists have brought Indian art to the global stage,” he said.