Artist Speaks: Sukanta Dasgupta talks about, Celebrating the Ordinary

Sukanta Dasgupta talks about his latest exhibition, Celebrating the Ordinary- his experiment with papier colles – pasting torn paper, to achieving the effect of oil paints

Celebrating the ordinary

I have continued to be intrigued with what defines beauty and why we consider things beautiful. In my continuing search for an answer to that elusive question what has remained constant is a nagging feeling that is we limiting the beautiful things around us by our pre judicial thinking.The more I have thought about them more am I convinced that we are trying to be judgmental in defining what is good and what is bad and if we look around we can expand our concept of beauty.

My works are based on everyday scenes which we might have encountered multiple number of times in our lives or even everyday and certainly not based on some rare sights only I have experienced. As a result, my works would invariably bring out a sense of familiarity. It is not about perfections but accepting whatever form it is in – it is all about what exist rather than what you want to be. In fact, it is not only about accepting but more about celebrating the imperfections.

The paintings in this exhibition are an attempt to engage the viewer to scenes or ideas which most of us would disregard to be lacking in beauty, however the effort has been that the viewers draw beauty out of it for themselves instead of me putting it directly before them!!

Paper Collage as an Expressive Medium

I have been experimenting and working with various media during the last three decades but for the past few years I have concentrated mainly on Papiers Colles. I use the medium slight differently from the classical use, in that the coloured paper, which is primarily cut from newspaper or magazine is used more like a paint brush. The shape of the cut paper typically represents the intended brush stroke. I select a specific portion of a printed, coloured picture, cut and paste it on paper or canvas. In this process, it is only the colour of the paper which is of importance; the content of the picture is irrelevant. However, the printed matter and at times letterings are used to give direction, flow and texture.The paper surface, type of paper, shape of cutting and method of cutting is selected based on the subject matter and required effect.

This medium has a few technicalities – there is no mixing of colours on the pallet or the canvas and there is no drying time. Unlike the canvas of oil painting the picture cannot be developed as a whole and neither can it be developed in stages. The white spaces left behind during the process of creating the Papiers Colles makes it difficult to comprehend the final effect but it also allows intuitive decomposition. The basic advantage of the medium is the vivid contrast it allows with dynamic colour juxtaposition. However, at times the end result is much unexpected. The complete picture needs to be constructed in mind, like in water colour painting and yet be ready to reorganize the final colour arrangement.

I have experimented with this medium for a while and tried various methods, which will be evident from the current array of works. I have strived to achieve the effects of oil paintings, such as the vividity of palette knife, spotty colour effect of the dry brush, fluidity of ‘wet on wet’ and unexpectedness of ‘wiping out’. Painting with paper collage is challenging, the outcome is apparent only when the work nears completion. It is unpredictable at times and may generate multiple images.

At times, I begin a Papiers Colles with a vague or may be without any specific subject in mind but only a specific colour combination. Somewhere during the process of evolution of the collage I compose the picture and thereafter add carefully selected and cut pieces to accentuate my conceived image with a hint of realism. This method, which I may call ‘extempore decomposition’, is challenging and prone to failure, which I have experienced in good measure. Yet to me this is the most satisfying and rewarding one. I return back to this style again and again, ready to fail.

To make my Papiers Colles I have banked on ideas which were either results of pure imagination or a mythological story or just a moment captured in camera. At other times, a master artist’s creation could have been my inspiration. Eventually, I have realized these inspirations have simply been driven by the desire to produce oil painting like effects with a plastic medium. I have not imposed upon myself many restrictions regarding media or technique, allowing myself the use of any possible means or mixture of media to arrive at a final, well composed, balanced picture, pleasing to the mind and reflecting a little bit of me.

About Sukanta Dasgupta

Sukanta Dasgupta (b 1963), has pursued painting, photography and other forms of artistic expressions for over three decades. The artist has experimented and worked with various mediums, presently he has focused on a relatively uncommon and difficult form of art called “Papier colles”

(paper collage) yet keeping his interest in other mediums alive.

He has experimented with papier colles for about ten years and has achieved the effects achievable by oil paint simply by pasting torn papers. Despite the plasticity of the medium, the artist has explicitly chosen Papiers Colles as his medium of expression. His past exhibitions have been accepted and praised by the artist community, media and most importantly by public in general. He is presently engrossed in finding the beauty in chaos, harmony of disorderliness.


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