Meanings And Mediums: An Artist’s Perspective

Printmaking: Imagery or Technique?

Speaker: Piyush Aggarwal, Visual Artist

Printmaking is a technique of producing multiples. We can have the same artwork with n no. of productions for that particular artwork. The technique is 2000 years old and developed in different phases to obtain the desire of multiples. It has developed in various mediums for producing a work of art. To classify in a broader way there are three different methods for that; i.e. Intaglio, Relief, and planography process.

For this session I would not go details of every technique rather we would be discussing whether a technique is important for the artist or the image produced by any of the techniques.

Why print is still not considered as a direct medium for creating art? The session will be discussed with images from the contemporary as well as traditional printmaking processes. Many artists are more technique-oriented and very particular for the technique they use in a conventional method of doing it. This results in many artists lose their charm in their imagery on what subject to make, what idea to develop with the techniques used.

We often have this kind of discussion that for a printmaker a technique is more important while considering the meaning for that artwork as secondary. What we should consider while processing an art: A concept or a technique of work from which the artwork is to be done.

The Royal Touch: The Garhgaon School of Assamese Miniature Paintings

Speaker: Rima Kalita, Research Scholar, IIT Guwahati

Kamasutra of Vatsyayayna describes that a nagaraka meaning an urban gentleman of should possess the knowledge of aesthetics and a keen eye and ear for painting, dance and music.1 Likewise, the Ahom kings were no less than true aesthetes as defined in the ancient canonical texts. From the last decade of the seventeenth century, an aristocratic court art developed in the Ahom royal court similar to the Mughals for documentation of events, pageantry and personalities of the court. Emulating the norms of the court paintings like that of the Mughals, the hill rajas2 and nobles of the Kangra valley3 or the Rajputs, the Ahoms also started this tradition from the days of Rudra Singha (1695-1713) and later developed by Siva Singha (1713-1744). This Garhgaon school4 grew as a new secular school and, in a sense the real court art.5 Rudra Singha and Siva Singha and their queens Phuleswari, Ambika Devi and Sarbeswari had immense contributions for the development of this style. Confined to the royal court it was probably an attempt by the Ahom kings to document the intellectual history of that period. The Ahoms already maintained the tradition of keeping both genealogical and other official records through Buranjis, they might have encouraged the illustrations for their personal interest or purposes, if not for the public.

During the glorious period of the Ahom rule, Rudra Singha, supported by his father’s (Gadadhar Singha) consolidations, concentrated on art activities more vigorously than his predecessors. He sent envoys/ambassadors to visit the contemporary rulers of other parts of India and created special khels called bairagis and kaunds, whose function was to visit different countries and report the king of the nature of the social and cultural life led there.6 His love for idealistic aristocracy resulted in the practice of wearing of Mughal attires in the Ahom royal

court along with the Kunmin Kunkha (Traditional Ahom attire).7 Introducing Indo-Islamic instrument like pakhawaj, he conveyed his utmost love for Hindistani music. It was Rudra Singha initiated the migration of artisan families like parsiparhiyas, akharkatiyas, gunakatiyas and few others to Assam. 8 Dilbar and Dosai were the two most celebrated invited artists from Bengal of that period.9 With the artistic intervention of the invited artists the pioneering Satriya style10 gradually eclipsed and developed new refined techniques with the inclusion of chakdar jama,11 moglai topi12 etc., as a melting pot of both Satriya and imported Muslim (not necessarily Mughal) styles (Fig. 2).13 The painted manuscripts of this technique, survived from king Siva Singha’s reign included the Sankhasura Badha (1726), Usha Harana (1730), Hastividyarnava (1734), Sastha Skandha Bhagavata (1734) and Dharma Purana (1735).14

Drawing its influence from the previous Satriya style, this school grew as a new secular school with the essence of court art portraying fine anatomy, three-quarter profile, portraiture  and naturastic landscapes. The division of the pictorial space became more prominent with a sense of foreground, layers of contrasting colours. Some of the noteworthy works of the early royal style are- Vanamali Devar Charita by Ramakanta Dwija, Sri Bhagavata Matsya Charita of Nityananda Kayastha (c. 1644-1650 A.D.), Gita Govinda by Kaviraj Chakravarty (c.1696-1714 A.D.), Lava Kushar Yuddha by Harivar Bipra (c.1714-1744 A.D.), Ananda Lahari by Ananta Acharya Dwija (c.1714-1744 A.D.), Sankara Charita (date is unknown), Lanka Kanda Ramayana (c. 1791-1806 A.D.) etc.15

During the reign of Rajeshwar Singha (1751-1769) the Satriya school had been submerged with that of the Garhgaon school.16 The intrusion of both Satriya and Royal elements became prominent in the work of the artists like Purnakam and Vishnuram Ata of Chaliha Bareghar Satra. In 1767, shortly before the Moamaria uprising the Adhyatama or Sundarakanda 

Ramayana by Purakam and Ajamil Upakhyan by Vishnuram are such instances where these two parallel styles met at the same focal point creating a new style with little traces of the Ahom Court.17

It was during the chaos of Moamaria rebellion, a series of civil war, Burmese invasion and the British aggression, the art of illustrating manuscripts faced a setback. In the year 1833 Purandar Singha was placed as a tributary ruler for a short period by the British Government. Despite these adverse socio-political chaos, he commissioned Durgaram Betha (a bibliophile) the illustration of the Brahmavaivarta Purana in 1836, which is now a part of the British Library, London.18 In the year 1841, Purandar Singha commissioned to illustrate another work i.e., the Karna Parva of the Mahabharata. Written and painted (?) by Durgaram Panchanana, the royal priest of the king, this work retained the similar stylistic dynamics of the Brahmavaivarta Purana.19 This work is probably the last work belonged to the royal house school executed in the nineteenth century.

Understanding the Body and Soul of Artwork

Speaker: Sikan Panda, Visual Artist

The oldest documented forms of art are visual arts, which include images or objects in fields like painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and other Visual media. Art, in its broadest sense, is a form of communication. It means whatever the artist intends it to mean, and this meaning is shaped by the materials, techniques, and forms it makes use of, as well as the ideas and feelings it creates in its viewers. Art is an act of expressing feelings, thoughts, and observations. Mediums are most important source of visual art. In a Visual art context, “art medium” refers to the art materials or artist supplies used to create a work of art.

An artist is a person who is involved in the wide range of activities that are related to creating art. Currently, the term “artist” typically refers to anyone who is engaged in an activity that is deemed to be an art form. However, the questions of what is art and who is an artist are not easily answered. The idea of defining art today is far more difficult than it has ever been. Artists can use any sort of medium they want to help give their work a certain feel, texture, and significance.

The Keech Indian

Speaker: Avni Bansal, Printmaker, Visual Artist

Meaning (An artist’s perspective) : The intent of the expression being communicated by a visualizer to its audience and the same being interpreted by the viewers in accordance with their own developed vocabulary.

Medium (An artist’s perspective) : A tangible way through which sensory impressions can be expressed in a transmitibale form. As per my understanding both meaning and medium work coherently yet independent of each other in the art practices. For me, both are dependent on two major factors, i.e. availability and

Availability: An artist tends to use and pick up materials for its self expression that are immediately available in his or her physical environment and mold it in such a way that it resonates with the artist’s set of ideas again mostly influenced and reflecting the primary environments they live in.

Capability : It really depends on the intellect of an individual artist, how well he or she is equipped to articulate the ideas and understand the mediums which are justifiable to communicate those ideas.

In this talk I will be briefly talking about two contemporary artists, how their choice of materials and culture has influenced their art practices and later on will shower light on my own practice as a printmaker and how printmaking as a medium helps me generate new ideas.

My Artwork, My Modus Operandi

Speaker: Mahima Saraswat, Art Educator

For artist, art is a personal dialogue. Its inception begins in the mind and furthered using all kinds of mediums. Meaning in art is observations, experience, motive, emotion, and a thought whereas the choice of medium allows the artist to convey the same observation, experience, the same message, using tools, techniques, forms, giving it a pictorial depiction.

Medium is decided based on the need of composition, it navigates the entire creative process, art process. Both meaning and medium are deficit without each other, both balance each other. Meaning adds substance and depth to an art work, medium add range, makes the same art more perceptible. In the visual language of art, medium could be oil paint, water colour, and wooden sculpture, metal sculptures made of bronze, sculptures made of stone, such as marble. Printmaking, another way of creating art, where prints are created on paper, using different techniques as, linocut, etching, lithoprint. When artist incorporate different mediums in the making of an art piece, it is termed as mix media. Variety of mediums, have always been endless and has lengthened in time, besides innovations in technology has immensely increased the possibilities. Digital installations, multimedia media, virtual reality, are form of digital art, these forms not only change meaning but enhance the experience of viewing art. Thus, giving full control to the artist to choose a medium, or multiple medium, which suits and describe the meaning of an art work best.

For professional artist, choice of medium plays a crucial role, not only in presenting their artwork, but such artist make living out of selling their art. The quality of material used in making the art also determines the quality of art. Selection of medium not only devolve the meaning behind an art work but
seize the attention of potential buyers and art collectors. Medium play existential role for artist and their art work. Artists release their ideas’ which unveil because of medium. “I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way-things I has no words for”- Georgia O’Keeffe

Habit of Visiting Museums

Speaker: Argha Kamal Ganguly, Assistant Curator, National Gallery of Modern art, New Delhi

Born 1991, Barrackpore, Kolkata. Pursued M.F.A. (2014) from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. Having a specialization in Painting , keeps a keen  interest  to  explore other mediums and  different fields of creative expression. Presently serving at National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi as an Assistant Curator. Engaging  viewers from different age group, students and  teachers through the Regular Walk through, Workshop, Storytelling session  and developing an interest about the collection of NGMA . Being the part of the curatorial team also involved in the process of planning, mounting and organizing exhibitions and other educational, outreach programs throughout the year. Engaged on part time basis as Guest Lecturer at College of Art ,New Delhi , National School of Drama& others.