A fusion of art and bonsai

BY MAULEE SENAPATI

They work with different mediums, one with ink, paper, pen, and seldom with brush and colours with which he is no less a genius of tonal dynamics and forms. The other with nicely curved out wood he collects from the bosom of nature, with roots of plants, its branches and leaves which represents a plant’s health. From a distance the commonalities between their creations aren’t particularly evident, nor would one ponder much about what lies similar between the mediums they love to creatively, and most passionately toil with as tireless vocations.  Peep deeper into what both creates and one would be mesmerized by a common thread binding two artists’ interests to present an essentially single realm bedecked by vignettes of life and nature’s concentrated spirits of expressions.

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The human urge to spontaneously respond to one’s reality and seek repose through the interplay of the dynamic forms of representation is as old as the cave paintings are, as humankind have known. If art is about dynamization of time and space to give vent to one’s creation, to portray the spirit of the real; Bonsai with roots in Confucianism and Taoism is no less a creative representation. Bonsai is not dwarfing of nature, it is in metaphorical sense a spiritual realization of the figurative spirit of nature achieved through a new entity, a new creation. When the drawings of a pioneer of his art in Assam is exhibited with the creations on and out of timber and plants by another pioneer in his field of interest, streams of consciousness and creation seamlessly coalesces with each other to present an amazing asymmetrical togetherness bonded by the tranquillity of time, and subtle profundity of oneness shared between the apparently more subtle drawings of a maestro with the more palpable Bonsai foliage.

This is how different forms fuse to present abstractions, and yet stand apart as wonderfully independent. The beauty of experiencing creations, whether as independent or collaborative, can be best experienced through the spirit of life both forms share, which incidentally binds renowned artist Benu Mishra’s sharp strokes and dynamic forms which evokes a sublime lyricism, with the lyricism achieved on wood and through the rhythmic curves and spreading arms of Bonsai plants by Labu Senapati, another passionate man. SRISTI, 2016, is how both the artists have named their joint exhibition held from July 2 to July 4, 2016, at Surjya, Chenikuthi, portraying life of the common man and his timber and plants deriving immensely creative expressions transcending time and space.

In most of Benu Mishra’s drawings there have been attempts to build the aesthetics of landscape as a representational strategy to unveil the subtext, the invisible essential. In his indefatigable journey of searching beauty-truth in the frame of historical factuality, image of the native landscapes, as well as what in its most intricate sense defines an intriguing mosaic of life, finds subtle, yet, forceful expression prolifically and significantly with defined folk presence. Labu Senapati’s oeuvre, on the other hand seems more palpable as he tirelessly toils on timber to sculpt figurative forms and furniture, while his Bonsai connects him in time and space to nurturing nature into creative objects of spiritual reverence. In the deft hands of Senapati the functional derives admirable aesthetic relevance. Here, too, the essence of what’s folk connects the two artists, more subtly in the case of Benu Mishra, and more pronouncedly functional in the case of the other.

In both the forms life remains the ultimate winner through means life and nature alone can offer to man. Together, they portray through their respective mediums a remarkable spectrum of celebration of life and what spirit of life alone can present. As one of my favourite teacher, a noted man of literature and aesthetics, Professor Pradeep Acharrya, defined by calling the collaborative endeavour of Benu Mishra and Labu Senapati as “Lifescape”, “the urge to know is innate and in art, this demands an urgency of involvement as it aspires to grasp the ungraspable, life”. This is precisely what Sristi, 2016, helped one to experience. After all, “Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see” is what the renowned Swiss painter Paul Klee said.

Maulee Senapati is a film maker and a former Head-of-the-Department of Film Direction, Annapurna International School of Film and Media Studies, Hyderabad.