United Colours of Kolkata
Ananta Mandal recognised as one of the most promising artists from India. By Z Abbas
Grand Prize for Landscapes Around the World at the Vista Art Show, USA; JMRC Award of the Texas Water Color Society, USA; Award of Excellence From San Diego Society Watercolor Society in California; National Award from the Art Society of India in Mumbai…. The list goes on. No we are not acquainting you with the awards an artist can win; these are just few won by Artist Ananta Mandal, 24 year old Artist from a village near Kolkata.
Ask him how it feels to have won so many awards at various national and international levels and he says coyly, “Great! It always feels good to win awards and have your work recognized. But winning is just part of game; what truly makes me happy are my paintings.” When kids of his age were cramming for exams, the young Mandal would sit with his drawing book and colors to create realistic or figurative images. “I would always wonder why my friends would usually be through with my studies in two hours max. To keep myself occupied for the remaining time that I would have in my hand, I would draw and paint.”
That is how Mandal began his journey in the world of art. “I came across a few editions of Great Artists, an amalgamation of the works of artist across the globe. These books made me feel that I too could depict images like them. My interest in painting grew from there.” Being the eldest in the family with a younger brother and two sisters, Mandal had to think about a stable career option especially since his family was family was not financially off. But the love for painting could not hold him back. “I knew I had enormous responsibility on my shoulders but I’ve always been a fighter. I decided to pursue my interest I painting against all odds and perhaps this determination has helped me create a nice for myself in this industry,” he says.
Despite being discouraged by friends, Mandal secured a seat in the Government college of Arts and Crafts at Calcutta University. This was a triumph in itself since out of more than a thousand applicants, only twenty odd budding artists get selected each year. “Many people told me that it was a difficult task but I was adamant to at least give it one short. I still remember the day when I had gone to check the selection list. That year only 11 people were selected since the number of seats had been reduced. I looked at the first eight names and thought I stood no chance. But something in me made me take a U turn and go through the list again. There, at the bottom was my name. I literally had tears of joy running down my cheek,” the young painter recalls.
Mandal’s life was marked by struggle during the early days. “For the first six months of college I would commute from my village to city. I realized this was consuming a lot of my time hence I decided to move into a hostel. My mother could shell out only Rs. 400 per month, so I started giving tuitions to make another Rs. 250. That’s was kept me going as far as my boarding and lodging was concerned,” he says.
Mandal’s first ‘studio’ was under the open sky in Howrah. “I would go there and sketch tired people sitting, people walking and capture the general city life. There’s something mystical about Kolkata. It’s an interesting city that influenced you. As I mastered the art of sketching live, I started carrying a small lay out book and returning to my hostel room I would blow up the images,” he reminiscences. Today Mandal has achieved the honor of being recognized as one of the most promising artists from India.
Mandal started with participating in various completions organized by his college. “My first solo exhibition was in 2004 when I was in my second year at college which received good reviews. Later I participated in competitions and on awards the as well. I also stared surfing the Net to find out where I could showcase my work. This how I came across the San Diego Water color Society in California. I won and award there amidst stiff competitions from various senior artists around the world. There was no looking back after that.”
Three years ago the Indian Artists’ Network spotted Mandal’s work and now promotes this painter nationally and overseas. “We’ve made him famous in Indonesia and now we’ll be promoting him in Singapore and dubai,” informs AjitVahandane of the Indian Artists’ Network.
Most of mondal’spaintings are water, acrylic and oil color based. “Earlier I found it extremely difficult to use water colors but now I can safely say that it has become my first love. I’m more into realistic painting and figurative to some extent,” confesses Mandal.
Talking about his favorites he says, “My all time favourite would be Vasudeo Kamath. I got more inclined towords pursuing my dreams of becoming a painter after reading Satyajit Ray’s works. He’s a tremendous influence on me.”
Besides painting, Manda l is extremely fond of music and reading.“When I’m painting I need music playing in the background. I’m not into music played by various bands. What makes me painting better are old Hindi and Bengali classics. Lata Man geskar and Mohhamed Rafi are my favorites. I have also finished reading Charley Chaplin’s autobiography and trust me it’s a must read,” he says.
Not a party person, Mandal prefers spending time with close friend aoccational outings to places away from the crowd and noise. Though a Bengali by heart he seems to be enchanted by Mumbai.
25 June 2007 BTW
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