A three artists exhibition at Studio 21, in Kolkata, dealt with the nature of sense perception and engaged the viewers on unusual subjects.
'Bad Smell, Good Smell'
Jayeti Bhattacharya, Prasanta Ghosh, and Mithun Das, three young artists from Kolkata, who studied art together at the Indian College of Arts and Draftmanship, before moving on to Master’s degrees and beyond, did not shy away from addressing a theme rarely approached in the visual arts, the varieties of smells. It was not in defiance of norms, or purely for its shock value, but to honestly and directly explore our sense of smell and its reactions to both familiar and not-so-familiar perceptions.
The curator, Manas Acharya, opened his introduction to the exhibition with a quote by the German philosopher Walter Benjamin, setting the tone of an engaging intellectual pursuit, “During long periods of history, the mode of human sense perception changes with humanity’s entire mode of existence. The manner in which human sense perception is organized, the medium through which it is accomplished, is determined not only by nature but by historical circumstances as well”.
Jayeti took the viewers to her home, to the earthy smells of soil and mud, of familiar objects, of home, and the sky above. Exploring life in the streets of a high crime neighborhood, Mithun worked on gang languages and warning threats, on the unpleasant smell of wounded and dead bodies. Back to private spaces, Prasanta dealt with body fluids, acid smells, ailments, the fear of sickness and decay, ultimately the fear of death.
“Bad Smell, Good Smell – continues the curator’s statement – is an exhibition concerned with the human sense perception and certain sensitivity captive inside the concrete structure of our private space as well as our social spaces. The exhibition tries to underline how the private space is affected by social norms and how our presence fades away from the objects that revolve around us.” And referring in particular to Prasanta’s work, he adds, “the objects being those, which are smelly, dirty and visually unpleasing to us and cause mental discomfort within us. Our reaction to such abject material re-charges what is essentially a pre-lingual response.”
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Emergent Art Space is particularly happy to feature this special event because all three artists, Jayeti Bhattacharya, Mithun Das, and Prasanta Ghosh, played a significant role in the international young artists exhibition ‘TRANSLATIONS’, which took place at the Indian Center for Cultural Relations, in Kolkata, in February 2016, promoted and organised in collaboration between renown artist Samindranath Majumdar and Emergent Art Space.
The exhibition was on view at Studio 21 Gallery, a showcase for alternative art practices in Kolkata, India, from June 16 through July 22, 2017.