Satyabrata Das brings his skyscapes to Bengaluru

The myriad moods of the sky are capricious and ever-changing, morphing from a tranquil blue to a blazing tapestry of red, white, purple, and yellow. Often, we are caught in the fleeting splendour, only to let the memories slip away too soon. However, these majestic spectacles are passionately revived through the stunning works of Satyabrata Das, whose recent series, ‘A Visual Vocabulary’, is currently captivating audiences in Bengaluru. When confronted by his paintings, one is transported back to those cherished moments spent gazing up at the celestial dome.

Das articulates a poignant message behind his art, “Urbanisation takes people away from life, but I want to bring that back, I want people to see Nature — its beauty, freshness, colours and moods, and that’s why I focus mainly on landscapes.” His works serve as a reminder of the organic connection humans share with the natural world, a bond often eclipsed by the relentless pace of city living.

Hailing from the storied city of Bhubaneshwar, Das credits his profound artistic influence to the historic and cultural backdrop of his formative years. Surrounded by ancient temples and heritage monuments bathed in various hues by the day’s light, he developed a keen eye for the interplay of color and architecture. Additionally, the domestic art of alpanas, or rangolis, drawn by his mother, further fuelled his creative impulses.

The true extent of Das’ artistic aptitude became apparent when he emerged triumphant in a state-wide art competition as a sixth-grader, a revelation for both himself and his family, who had hitherto only associated gold medals with academic pursuits. This triumph was a turning point that brought immense joy to his parents, particularly his father.

Das’ formal education in fine arts at Kala Bhavana, the Visva-Bharati University’s art department located in the idyllic town of Shantiniketan, further cemented his artistic direction. His education under luminaries such as Somnath Hore, KG Subramanyan, Sanath Kar, and the opportunity to be mentored by the legendary Ramkinkar Baij, significantly shaped his aesthetic sensibilities and approach to depicting nature in his artworks.

Post-graduation, Das’ artistic journey took an educational turn as he lent his skills to a children’s TV art show. A significant professional milestone was the commissioning by Nalco in 1984 for artwork for their inaugural calendar, which, following its release, garnered wide acclaim for its renditions of historical Odishan sites.

A venture into academia led Das to pursue an MBA in California, where his artistry continued to flourish. He notably served as a docent during the Festival of India in Los Angeles, where encounters with esteemed Indian filmmakers, writers, artists, and craftsmen greatly enriched his perspective.

Returning to his roots in painting, Das’ early replication of masterpieces eventually gave way to an original exploration of nature and landscapes, reflecting his love for travel and experience. From colonial edifices to rustic village abodes, and from the bustling streets of Calcutta to serene beaches and boulevards, his diverse themes resonate with vivid imagination and emotive depth. A common element in his paintings is the moon, which appears in nearly all of the pieces in ‘A Visual Vocabulary’. The moon’s inclusion is a testament to Das’ romantic inclinations and his fascination with the night sky’s guiding light.

The 30-odd canvases that comprise Das’ latest series were initiated in 2022 and draw inspiration from varied landscapes including those in Odisha, Assam, and parts of the United States. His meticulous use of acrylics and oil to construct textures and linear lines infuses his works with a dynamic vibrancy, skilfully conveying the varying moods of the settings portrayed.

‘A Visual Vocabulary’ is more than an art exhibit; it represents Satyabrata Das’ heartfelt celebration of creativity, designed to connect viewers with the alluring complexity of nature. The artist also finds joy in imparting artistic knowledge to the youth and elderly, encouraging the appreciation and expression of beauty through art.

Bengaluru’s enthusiasts of fine art can indulge in Satyabrata Das’ ‘A Visual Vocabulary’ at MKF Museum of Art until February 25, where they will find themselves lost once again under the mesmerizing expanse of skies that once captured their wonder.

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