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A journey into the Elemental

Oindrilla Maity visits Manoj Kachangal’s recent solo show at the Mon Art Gallery, Kolkata and comes out with a feeling that this artist looks for the elemental simplicity of nature and forms in his works. Using colors and geometrical patterns, Manoj evokes a transcendental world, says Oindrilla Maity.

Manoj Kachangal was born in Shadhora, Madhya Pradesh, in 1979. He is predominantly an abstractionist. In fact his works are not a fry cry from simple three- step principle that leads to abstraction: true to nature - stylized similarity to the original - beyond recognition. His early works, of course were crowded canvases, which gave way to layered spaces, as people and places discarded form and receded into inferences.

His on-going show, titled ‘In search of the Abyss’ at the Mon Art Gallerie, Kolkata (from 9th to 29th February) is predominantly a search for ‘what constitutes India’. Bhavna Kakar writes in her catalogue for the show: “Paradoxes, pluralities and hybridities. These are the leitmotifs that appear whenever we consider the question of what constitutes ‘India’. Right from the dawn of civilization, from the Indus -Harappan period moving into the twenty-first century, India has never been constant. Tumultous, steady and apathetic by degrees, India has been in a state of constant flux. A flux, which is very much a part of its own inherent perception.” It is this quintessential spirit that the artist searches for, through ‘colour, rhythm, balance, accord, a sense of mysticism and tranquility.”

Manoj’s canvases are introspective and unassuming as the artist himself. Nonetheless, a dynamic energy, an elemental force, pervades his canvases. One habitually associates his work with the same contemplative mood as in Raza or in Ganesh Haloi’s work. In fact, Manoj draws inspiration from Raza and his early canvases often bore the triangles and concentric circles as those of Raza’s. Tranquil and meditative as they are, Manoj opens up new avenues for the onlooker to travel through a new land that beckons him for further exploration. Layered with textures, overlapping striations, horizontal an vertical lines and countless blotches of colours applied with broad spatula, these marks somehow hint at the myriad colours and the pulsating life of the Indian people – the pluralities of our culture. He tends to blur the demarcations and limits between the numerous cultures and thereby expressing an objective outlook – synthesizing the diverse elements into a cohesive whole. However, in doing so, a feeling of monotony comes to the fore, as Manoj keeps using the same compositional structure, the same elements and even the same colour palette over and over again like correction prints produced by the same machine.

Mon Art Gallerie is one of those enterprising art galleries that have emerged in Kolkata in the recent past (more specifically during the last five years of the present decade) and has been playing a significant role in featuring artists, especially young talents from outside West Bengal. This welcoming effort eventually puts an end to the age-old practice of featuring artists belonging to a specific geographical territory (West Bengal/Kolkata in this case), hindering transgression. Fortunately, things have changed now considerably, and although the parochial art trends continue to exist; artists, especially young contemporaries facing fresher challenges come to the fore with a marked dynamism, shunning the parochial and stagnant art trends. Although this does not rule out the question of showing compliance to the ‘market’ and often, upcoming talents fall for creating what is ‘in’, newer ventures continue to gain shape – blurring any territorial demarcation, whatsoever.


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