How can anything that is so apparently simple actually be so inexplicably complex? Tanmoy Samanta’s paintings are like an enlightened philosopher’s simple statements that are loaded with layers of meaning. Naturally, these meanings do not reveal themselves until the viewer lingers over the paintings and actively engages with each work. The artist’s superb control over line drawing helps him to navigate images such that they transmigrate, merge into, or transform each other into complex visual puzzles with multiple interpretations.
For instance, at first viewing “Aquarium” does not have fishes, a tank or even water as its obvious content images. Instead there is a simple transparent bowl with a pair of tailor’s scissors resting inside. A closer look will however reveal that beyond the surrealistic imagery there is the all-pervasive watery turquoise blue against which the bowl is drawn, and it is itself reminiscent of the traditional fish-bowl, while the scissor blades lay flat to look like a fish-head resting on a non-existent stone slab. All of these divergent images bring “Aquarium” together. These images are not the stuff of artistic imagination but are sponged from run-of the-mill visuals of real life and infused with deeper meaning. In “Legacy”, the modest jacket, a little too well-worn and with large stains, is perhaps indicative of the nature of what one receives as inheritance – the warmth and comfort of the family but which comes with its own, not necessarily, positive baggage. But just like one cannot choose the family one is born into, one has little choice about one’s legacy and there is nothing one can do but to accept it with grace.
Tanmoy’s images thus freeze a dramatic moment, and endowed as these images are with the unexpected and bewildering, they significantly raise the level of image-making from the mundane to the extra-ordinary. “Cut Throat” is an interesting and powerful work. There is not a hint of blood-shed but the clean decapitation is indicative of an experienced, cold-blooded operator at work, the hint of limp bones and feathers gesturing towards their fate as slaughter-house waste. One of Tanmoy’s more complex works in this show is “The Master Key”. Is the key just sitting inside the uneven cube or does the box’s transparency allow us to see ‘what lies beyond’, including the key? What doors will this key open? What promises does it hold? Or is it a useless key, its lock lost forever? Each viewer will arrive at their own answers.
Tanmoy Samanta’s paintings speak a language that is deceptively simple at a superficial interpretation, but which becomes increasingly complex, sometimes even profound, as one engages in a deeper conversation with them.
Baroda, October 2007
Born in West Bengal in 1973
• 1996 Masters in Fine Arts from Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan
Selected Solo Exhibitions
• 2008 ‘The Light of the Mind’, Ananat Art , kolkata
• 2006 ‘The Ancedote and its Shadow’, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
Selected Group Exhibitions
• 2007 ‘Telling It Like It Is: The Indian Story’, The Gallery In Cork Street, London
• 2007 ‘Layered Trajectories’, Lemongrasshopper, Ahmedabad
• 2007 “Configuration”, Anant Art Gallery, Kolkata
• 2007 “Paper Flute”, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
• 2007 “Real 2007”, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
• 2007 “Monsoon Chapter”, Travancore Palace, New Delhi
• 2007'Making History Our Own' at All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society presented by SAHMAT, New Delhi
• 2007 “Dialogues”, Anant Art Gallery, New Delhi
• 2006 “Back to the Future”, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
• 2006 “Unayan”, presented by Gallery Nvya at Academy of Fine Arts & Literature, New Delhi
• 2006 Centre of International Modern Art (CIMA), Kolkata
• 2004 “Palette Summer”, Palette Art Gallery, New Delhi
• 2002 “Art of Young Bengal”, Aakriti Art Gallery, Kolkata
• 2000 ‘Edge of the Century’, British Council, New Delhi
• 1998 “Young Santiniketan Today”, Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai
• 1998 Herwitz Gallery, Ahmedabad
• 2007 Gulf Art Fair 2007, Dubai, represented by Gallery Espace, New Delhi
Awards and Honors
• 2003 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award, New York
• 1995-97National Scholarship, Govt. of India
• 1998 Artist-In-Residence, Kanoria Centre For The Arts, Ahmedabad.