Report: Asheem Poddar

Kolkata/Port Blair, Sept 14: Of late, the art lovers of Kolkata and many from places in and around the city had the opportunity of seeing a conglomeration of paintings and sculpture by a group of promising artists under the aegis of an organisation appropriately named 'Mangrove'. It was the Seventh Annual Painting – Sculpture Exhibition’ of this unique organisation held for a week at the ‘New South Gallery’ of the Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata. Among the participants in the said exhibition were altogether 19 painters, sculptors and cartoonists. Mahananda Gomasta, a well-known artist, who carved out a niche for himself as a sculptor of great repute in Andaman and elsewhere also flew in to take part with his pieces of sculptures in this event.

A host of art luminaries including Renowned artist and former Principal of Indian Art College, Kolkata Dr. Subimalendu Vikas Sinha, National Awardee poet Arun Kumar Chakraborty, renowned history researcher Dr. Swapan Kumar Mandal and others are said to have graced the inauguration of the event and applauded the efforts of the artists and their exhibits.

On a visit to the exhibition on the penultimate day before its closure, it was found that the visitors to the gallery were mostly impressed by the displays. This was apparently owing to the theme of the exhibition which focussed mainly on the survival of mangrove- be it in the Sunderbans, Andaman Islands or elsewhere in our country in close relations with the plight of the people inhabitating around these vast areas. Artists have expressed explicitly but subtlety such precarious conditions of both mangrove and the people as also the empathy shown to them by the government and others who matter. The natural environment of the Sundarbans and the struggle for survival of the agrarian people reflect a different culture. Efforts to revive the roots in natural and social shelters are constantly active there. In this eternal flow of life, the aesthetic sense and cultural sense of the people develop in their own way, which artists are eager to express themselves.

In fact, what really is the prime objective of these of Mangrove artists is their uncompromising struggle to Protect the Biodiversity and Cultural Existence of the Sundarbans and other such places. "Despite not reaching the light of traditional art education, they will be able to bring out more talent standing in the marginal islands of Sundarbans and the cultural identity of the Sundarbans will become a story in different ways of life," said Arup Mandal, one of the active members of the organisation. "At the center of the unique determination and feeling is the idea of the Mangrove Artists’ Organization to ensure protection of the Sundarbans and the preservation of the world’s nature and environment", Mandal told during a long chat with him on occasion. Mangrove Artists' Organization is committed to open the doors of the mainstream of art to the practice of marginal art consciousness and life sense. Since its inception in 2015, 'Mangrove' has been giving the message of preserving the natural resources of Sundarbans and supporting public life through various art workshops, art reviews and art-sculpture exhibitions, Arup concluded.