VISIT TO KALA BHAVANA
Since my father was a faculty member of Kala Bhavana, even in 1970s as a half pant clad school boy I used to visit Kala Bhavana often. At that time both Nandalal Bose and Ramkinkar Baij were alive. But as a child I hardly was much too interested in serious art, often observed several paintings and sculptures just out of curiosity. But even in those days I liked the people there, carefree and jolly. The visits to Kala Bhavana still continues at 2018, with many of the faculty members as friends now. In fact this is the only section in Visva Bharati where one can go and have a chat with faculty members and students; the other sections of Visva Bharati are systematically inaccessible to any outsider. It is good to find that Kala Bhavana still keeps a space open in their heart. Otherwise Visva Bharati is very much a closed entity, with just a Tagore museum at display.
The images of Kala Bhavana remain intriguing just as well, though I hardly visit there to comprehend or discuss art. But during the conversations art manages to squeeze in somehow or other. Over the years I have really enjoyed observing art just as a part of life in Kala Bhavana. Laid back and unhurried one can still breathe lungful of unhindered oxygen.
Naturally I only captured those images of Kala Bhavana and it’s art which appealed to me in one way or other. I really cannot offer any explanation why I liked a particular painting or sculpture. Without any reason offered, and reason demanded, Kala Bhavana ideally is a place to suit all kind of ideas and expressions. At this present juncture of time, the art sections of Visva Bharati do not reflect any particular idea or thought, unlike the olden days where the Bengal school found a certain subtle modification at Santiniketan. In very convenient term art is now ‘free style’ at Kala Bhavana. The old timers and art historians may lament the absence of any particular suggestive direction in art thinking in Kala Bhavana, but in today’s fluid world I think it is fair enough. When we ourselves cannot stick to our own social values in this ever dynamic scenario, why should that burden be carried by the artist fraternity of Santiniketan? After all, in real terms Art is actually a statement of the condition of society and its relection on human mind.
So, even without being seriously focused in art, a stray visitor like me over all these decades at Kala Bhavana, still gets infected by some art thinking! Over time I also get a chance to interact with students, their way of life. Nothing much has changed from my student days around late 70s, apart from the fact that Kala Bhavana students now prefer to stay within their fold. In student days, a group of boys along with me from the Science sections at Siksha Bhavana used to regularly visit Kala Bhavana even just for an evening cup of tea. I particularly remember three of my contemporaries Dilip Tamuli, Utpal Barua and Bula Chakraborty. Dilip was a maverick with his unimitable ways of expressions and statements on life in general! Utpal was a pretty serious art thinker who exposed me to Cezanne. Bula was a hard working girl at Graphics who would invariably be at the studio till almost 9pm. All of them are now established figures in art colleges and in reputed museums. I still cherish the associations of those days.
Now, it is bit sad a story that students from other units of Visva Bharati hardly visits Kala Bhavana and vice versa.
A general feeling is persisting now, that Art is not for common people. It is an intriguing topic in itself. Every household in Santiniketan tries to make the dwelling place look better and lovely, spending quite a lot on interior decoration and gardening. We do not mind to pose a few style statements as well if we can. Naturally we apply some kind of aesthetic sense of our choice by doing so. The artists explore and if possible invent the aesthetic sense. So, to me, with a very ungrammatical understanding, to appreciate art one needs to stretch and explore one’s own aesthetic sense. If someone is bound to some aesthetic parameters of his own choice, it is just not possible to comprehend other parameters. Technically general people do not feel too comfortable when the aesthetics are stretched too far, at times the strings just snap, resulting is a huge confusion about Art in their mind. At this point, I am not sure whose responsibility it is to make the general horizon of aesthetic senses to expand. Is it the artist’s responsibility or it is the responsibility of the general people? Mathematically, ‘both ways’ is the mean answer!