— By Aiyushman Dutta
Assam’s Ganesh Gohain chosen for Indo-ASEAN Art Residency
‘Merging Metaphors’ inaugurated by ICCR DG Suresh Goel
ICCR Director General Suresh Goel inaugurated a mega artist residency between Indian and ASEAN artists at Mayfair Hotels and Resorts in Darjeeling last Monday. The event, Merging Metaphors, is participated by 25 artists from 10 countries, including Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and India. The list of veteran artists also includes Ganesh Gohain from Assam.
The creative joint, which will continue till tomorrow, seeks to forge a sense of bonding and solidarity between the ASEAN community and India – countries that have shared cultural roots and geographical proximity – for further bonding through art. Given the unprecedented surge, and prestige and place of contemporary art in cultures of the world, as a continuum of living traditions, it seems appropriate to use this platform to promote cohesion and thereby economic and all around development for a better society, ICCR Regional Director R Chatterjee, who informed me about the venture, said.
Curated by Sushma K Bahl jointly with Archana B Sapra, the project involves the artists living, working and interacting with each other in a mix of structured program and open-ended options and informal gatherings to make it a forum for reflection, relaxation and rejuvenation of the body and mind leading to renewed creativity, and expression with scope for collaboration. There will be time and facilities to draw, paint, write or do other things in the mornings, visits to local sites of art historical/cultural significance in the afternoons and discussions/interactions/slideshows in the evenings to facilitate networking, information sharing and building mutual understanding.
Inaugurating the residency, ICCR DG Suresh Goel harped on the age-old cultural ties between India and the ASEAN countries. He said, “There is a common cultural and civilizational thread which brings India and countries of South East Asia together. This common thread is evident in their performing arts such as Wayng Kulit, Apsara dance in Cambodia and Laos, the Ramayana in Thailand and much more. The architecture in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and India seem to have almost common origin with the similar structures of temples. We share similar traditions in Batik textile prints and other weaves. The vibrant similarities have been possible because of earlier interactions between India and these countries dating back to almost 1500 years ago.”
“The look east policy of India is inspired by these civilizational links and our common aspirations for socio-economic growth in contemporary times. The residency provides an opportunity for the painters from these countries to share their creative ideas and further explore these commonalties” continued Dr Suresh K Goel.
The scenic Darjeeling in Eastern India with its cool hills, old monasteries and vast tea estates selected for the residency will provide the back drop, and inspiration for the group to create a new body of work that will be added to the ICCR’s collection for display in its offices in India and elsewhere. It will be shown first in the host country- India and then hopefully some of the ASEAN member countries - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The sessions and interactions during the residency and the resulting work documented in an illustrated catalog will be published by ICCR and launched during the inaugural show in July.
The participants of the residency are mostly mid-career artists with a good track record and engaged in innovative art with aesthetic merit. They include painters, new media artists, designers, photo artists, sculptors and others working in varied media to present an overview of the contemporary art scene in the region with glimpses of its diversity and vibrancy.
The list of participants includes the likes of Mr. Osman Mohammad, vice president of Brunei Art Forum who is actively engaged in promoting art in his home country. His repertoire in varied forms and multimedia; ranges from art and design to broadcasting, management and development; Cambodian painter and multi-talented artist Svay Sareth, Ivan Sagita from Indonesia who is a winner of the Silver at Osaka Biennale; Nivong Sengsakoun and Saykham Oudomsouk from Laos, Dato SK Choo of Malaysia, Min Wae Aung and Zaw Mong of Myanmar, Quek Kiat Sing from Singapore, Nataphon Na Nakorn from Thailand, Sac Ngo van from Vietnam, Assamese artist Ganesh Gohain, Pampa Panwar, Seema Kohli, and others.
A post-graduate diploma holder in fine arts from the M.S. University at Vadodara, versatility and a melding of the past and present congeal in the sculptural and graphic works of Ganesh Gohain. Hues of metals and nature weave a new concept of classic forms in contemporary form and perception. Numerous subtle forces seem to play beneath the surface of his work, juxtaposing historical contexts with contemporary cultural epoch. Recipient of the French Government Scholarship, he spent a year at L’Ecole Superiure Des Beaux Arts, Le Mans, France and with the Charles Wallace Fellowship Award, he did a residency in Glasgow, U.K. His work has been shown in group exhibitions across India and overseas, including solo shows at the State Art Gallery in Assam, the Nehru Centre in London, the Kelvin Grove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow, and the L’Ecole Superiure Des Beaux Arts in Le Mans. Aside from exhibitions, he has also participated in numerous artists’ workshops. Ganesh lives and works in Vadodara.