By Rupanjali Baruah
In women centric art, narratives of women are explored on canvas meant to stir new observations of women, their varied roles in the social milieu as well as within the four walls of their domestic world. Though we often view only the archetypal roles of women, such art deviates from the custom-made experiences and places them among aesthetic nuclei that confer particular contours, gestures to their dispositions on canvas. We then understand the very climate of that circle where these women belong. All these individual perspectives of women arise from an artist’s own impression of these women drawn from a series of flashbacks or from an understanding of the native region which is a rich, luxurious source of inspiration to transfer these musings upon an oeuvre.
So past and present, invariably, ricochet back and forth on the cadences captured on the canvas. As a result, our gaze slowly ponders over the various attributes of woman as companion, seductress, homemaker, mother, peasant and many more. In each, we notice a fine sensibility of women to break free from stereotyped gender biases as we are given glimpses into a better interpolation between man and woman. Viewed in this context, women-centric art delivers a deeper meaning that exists at the subterranean consciousness that reaches to the very core of the soul of these women drawn from various perspectives of life situations.
Jiten Hazarika of Assam, now based at Noida, is an eminent visual artist who clearly understands how for every woman, relationships work at a different pace for different time, particularly how motherhood or simply the role of raising a child involves some vital issues and exclusive to women. He observes how women battle with time, how they sometimes need to escape from the domain of domestic space and meaningfully find a way to alter reality with fantasy or a world of make-belief. This is how life becomes worth living.
Thus we notice clearly that Jiten Hazarika sees women as robust fulsome as a river in high spate, and at the same time he keeps their feminine grace and charm achieved by instilling in each of his women with details of everyday reality surrounded by disparate objects and situations so that we accept them with quiet surrender. And the underlying mystery of a far-fetched fantasy hovers upon these objective realities. This is how he celebrates the female form by giving a new dimension to the male view of the opposite sex and frees the human sensibility from age-old prejudices that surround women. The artist gives a clarion call to see women not as weak submissive or reluctant participants in the social context since he has felt the very inner pulse of women opening a new door to observe women anew with colour, race, nationality that all come together in subtle outlines, shapes and form.
The optical illusion is paramount to him that is achieved through the use of attires of brilliant colours, layers of fabric that hide more than they reveal though there is the underlying suggestion of a mystery that is yet to unfold and this invites the viewer to explore them closely. His women exist in a spatial world of their own social grid. Jiten Hazarika infuses a particular spirit in each of them to make them come alive with voices no longer stifled or muted. His reverence for filial responsibilities, the adherence to traditional values are imbedded in his interpretation of women, almost like a chant of a prayer, we hear his own invocation of his faith and fascination of women. There is nothing too loud or raucous, since he cannot view women with such one-sided myopic attitude – he leans more to hear the melody than the cacophony.
The old language of art is not enough; he has to evolve his very own language drawn from within, from his native soil, so most of his women centric figures resemble the face of the orient, rounded, fulsome and shapely like the contours of hills and valleys. They are dressed in attire that belongs to a particular locale, vibrant, multi-layered, he picks up every detail, syllable by syllable, image by image. They are arabesque figures captured in the midst of action, be alone or in a community of women bound by emotions of gaiety sadness or splendour at one thing called life.
At the subsurface level of his consciousness, his figures of women jump out of his reverie to find their locale upon his canvas that make him long to go to a retreat of old memories where he would relieve that old forgotten world. This is an internal necessity to treat the intangible phenomenon that surrounds his universe. So his women belong to particular nuclei of existence that only the artist can explore to feel and explain. It is his own to claim and from where he shall never seek a point of departure and so his vision is ever expanding. His universe is so believable because inner discipline and structural harmony derives the intensity from his line and colour. He does not need to follow a priori theory of colour, because he has his own treasure of sensation of colour. And quite decisively his women are bathed in light, placed within a simple spectacle, like a symphony upholding feminine grace and ardour that we discover on his canvas.
(RupanjaliBaruah is a published author, literary editor and noted artist and art critic of the country. She has to her credit several published books, essays and art works which are critically acclaimed. Based in Guwahati and Jorhat, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)