• ‘Memories, Impressions, and Materials’ | Bengala, India

    In this series of scrolls, inspired by traditional Indian and Chinese narrative scroll paintings, artist Subhadip Battacharya weaves past and present memories while exploring the textures as well as the potential of paper in rendering the complexities of his story telling.


    Detail of scroll #1

    My work keeps the essence of my experiences, pickled in jars, jars that we keep for a long time. The containers of emotions.

    There were some thoughts in my mind… and time flows... like speeding arrows and haste birds... work happens… again some thoughts enter... they touch times and spaces, and a random selection of images.

    "The artist becomes less satisfied with the market driven art materials when he starts working with themes like memories." It is true for me, especially with memories coming from a middle-class town woes.

    Detail of scroll #1

    My work starts with conversations with the people I come across. Both people close to and strangers to me. My memory becomes clear and then unclear again. The distance in time keeps things in a faded blur in my thoughts. This I what I bring to the work, a type of storytelling that I found interesting and unique. I enjoy working this way. It may change, but for the time being this is my style, the artistic language I am pursuing, blended with my interests and studies in a diversity of traditional and folk Indian art.

    I try to work with a set of materials which actually convey my intended aim, but I often end up burning them, cutting them, grinding them, transforming the core newness into a more essential material which would describe the memory, so that the nature of that material becomes apt to describe memories when I push it with my thrust of meaning into it.

    Detail of scroll #2

    I feel the need for materials that are able to communicate, and I am thinking of making my own materials from scratch, making the actual paper. Paper can have many different meanings. For me it can represent the layers of memories that images get impressed on, a layered holding space, deeply faded. I won't use words on the surface, but it is till surface which I create.

    In these series of works, I have tried to record my everyday memories. They are a diary, where I tried to express my inner thoughts through the form of scroll paintings, as I am very much influenced by the narrative scroll format of Pata Paintings (1) and Chinese Scroll Paintings.

    Detail of scroll #2

    The diverse stories have no distinct feature of similarity or connection with each other as such, but they all incidentally build up the larger frame of my work. I tried to interpret my own childhood memories and played with them in a pictorial way. I live in a 'muffusil town' (2) and thus my memories are made of incidents of everyday life common to all middle class semi urban families, which is what perhaps makes my work stand apart. I used my sense of colour to recreate on the paper the feelings of my memories.

    In recent times, I have been experimenting with the theme of memory itself, but in a new sense. After being fascinated with stories retold to me by people in multiple interactions, I have decided to focus on the entire theme of ‘tale-telling’ or ‘story telling’, which goes back to old traditions in ancient India. The visual diary then becomes for me a tool to record unique stories of different people onto paper, where I try to put colours into the words and bring out pictures from those stories.

    Detail of scroll #3

    I try to visualize the stories for my viewers and in turn share my experiences. My paintings are trying to bring out the different perspectives of the story tellers and their personal points of view, and my linear drawings aim at a simplified and yet layered and nuanced outlook.

    With the help of this project I would be able to stretch my experiments to different mediums and materials. The expense of testing out new materials in papermaking is becoming unaffordable at times. So this project, if gets funded, would allow me to carry on some experiments in this type of work. I am willing to study more on these areas and would be happy to get assistance from fellow artists.


    (1) Pata paintings are ancient traditional Bengala paintings drawn on cloth.
    (2) Muffusil refers to rural or provincial Indian towns.