The Shape of Home by Tanmoy Samanta
TARQ recently hosted Tanmoy Samanta's third solo show, The Shape of Home, at its gallery in Mumbai. The collages and watercolor paintings in this show explore Samanta's practice of elevating the miniature to the epic through his artistic language of solitude and reflection.
The artworks in this exhibition showcase Samanta's exploration of the material and imaginative aspects of our domestic spaces at a time when we are confined within those very spaces. Created during the ongoing pandemic, these artworks are evocative of the memories and stories that these domestic spaces hold. Also present in this show is the artist's leitmotif of birds. Samanta often uses birds as a vehicle to examine certain dualities like the macabre and the fantastic, moment and eternity, and presence and absence. Using his preferred medium of rice paper on paper board, Samanta has succeeded in creating works that are quietly poetic.
As described by Samanta, “These works are about memory and the idea of home; about longing, belonging and unbelonging. They are about the presence and absence; evocation and poignancy. The stencil like images on the cut-out surfaces are an act of assemblage of memory of different times - some subdued and others stark. They are in the shapes of objects at home—some carefully preserved, forgotten or discarded, heirlooms, layered with tactile experiences and mind-travel to the constellations.”
Here is a short note about the works in the show by Ranjit Hoskote who has written an essay for the accompanying exhibition catalogue, ”Tanmoy Samanta's exquisite images remind us that the sky was our first roof. We stand before these paintings and gaze at constellations circling slowly on a star map. We savor Samanta's subtle palette of amethyst and cinnabar, slate grey and terracotta pink, and imagine what it must be like to travel across uncharted terrain in that house, mounted like a sleigh on a runner. Or what it might be like to feel the shadow of that raptor's wing fall between the sun and us, a radiant eclipse. This is a liberating experience at a time when we have begun to emerge, tentatively, from a long period of self-isolation enforced by the COVID pandemic.
Samanta's paintings spell out a cartography of here and elsewhere, belonging and mobility. Sometimes, in these almost painfully beautiful works, the signs of habitation and settlement are set at the edge of a world that is slipping into shadow. Origami houses, folded up, folded out, folded away: are they telling us that we are already living among ruins, in houses that have drifted into a state of desolation, best expressed through that fine Urdu word, Veernni?
Profoundly aware of the perils of the Anthropocene, Samanta cautions us with his atlases of continents coming apart and exploding; his grand shoal of birds, gathering together against the tidal cataclysm to come. In the presence of Tanmoy Samanta's paintings, we recognise ourselves as perennial nomads, now ever more vulnerable than before, at risk from ourselves and our engines of devastation.
About the Artist: Tanmoy Samanta
Tanmoy Samanta began his artistic journey at the Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan, West Bengal, before training at the Kanoria Arts Centre, Ahmedabad. His career has seen a number of solo exhibitions including three with the New Delhi based Gallery Espace and one at Anant Art Gallery, Kolkata. Samanta's show at TARQ in 2014, titledThe Shadow Trapper's Almonuc, curated by Ranjit Hoskote, marked his first solo exhibition in Mumbai. The Shape o/ Home will be his third solo show at TARQ.
Over the years, Samanta has been a part of group shows across Índia and abroad. Recently, he was part of agroup exhibition, Known Unknovvn, organized by the Raza Foundation, in collaboration with Vadhera Art Gallery, 2020. Besides participating in numerous art fairs such as Art Dubai, Dhaka Art Summit, Art Chennai and India Art Fair, his works have been a part of several prestigious public art projects such as the installation at the Hyatt Regency, Delhi (2016), a site specific collaborative project at HM Ahmedabad (201ó),T-2 Liminus, Mumbai International Airport (2013) and Bee- Hive at the Hyatt Regency, Chennai (2011) - both curated by Rajiv Sethi. In 2002, Samanta's artistic practice was recognized and celebrated with an award from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York, USA.
He lives and works between New Delhi and Santiniketan
Courtesy: TARQ, Mumbai