Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom (Contemporary Art of Orissa)

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Item Code: IDK932
Author: Dinanath Pathy
Publisher: Working Artists Association of Orissa, and Aryan Books International
Edition: 2001
ISBN: 8173052093
Pages: 248 (Illustrated Throughout In B/W and Colors)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.2” X 8.8”
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Book Description
Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom : Contemporary Art of Orissa
traces the evolution of art from the nineteenth century up to the last decade of the twentieth century. It focuses on a continuing tradition and its gradual transformation into an international art mode reflecting in it the contemporary nuances and aspirations. The tradition of temple murals, palmleaf manuscript painting, pata paintings, Saura tribal paintings and Osakothi folk paintings were the factors that came together in diverse, eclectic, yet sustaining ways to shape the contemporary art of the State.

the book makes a historical encounter with analytical anecdotes of an emerging Indian art trend. It speaks of a regional spell, virgin overawe and a future promise. It impresses the reader with the paraphernalia of an art movement trying to match the glory and distinction of its past art heritage.

editor and contributor:
Dinanath Pathy, a practising painter and pioneer of the Orissan Contemporary Art Movement, art historian and creative writer. Studied in Orissan and Santiniketan. President of India Silver Plaque for painting Sri Radha (AIFACS), A.L. Basham Memorial Award for research in Orissa-Art (Institute of Oriental and Orissan Studies), Sahitya Akademi Award for Autobiography The Drawing Master of Digapahandi, worked as curator, Art and Craft in the Orissa State Museum, Founder Principle, B.K. College of Art & Crafts, Bhubaneswar and Secretary, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow, Research colleague and co-author of Dr. Eberhard Fischer. Presently Director, Alice Boner Institute, Varanasi.

Associated editor and contributor:
Soubhagya Pathy, poet and columnist, occasionally paints. Researching on “Palace Rituals in a Mediaeval Orissan” as a B.E.F. foundation Zurich fellow. Continuing Ph.D project on “Evolution of Pictorial Language “ in the Indira Art and Music University, Khairagarh, Chhattisgarh. Published two poetry Anthologies, Beaujolais Nouveau, Aditi 1999 and Portraying Myself, Writer’s Workshop to Oddiyan, Six Contemporary Painters, 1997, Continuity in the Flux, Orissa, 1998, Reference Orissa, 2000.

Alekh Charan Sahu, studied art at Santiniketan and Art History in M.S. University Baroda. Teaching at the Government College of Art and Crafts, Khalikote since 1983 and Principle of the same College since 2000. Awarded by the State Lalit Kala Akademi for Terracotta Sculpture. Articles on art published in several journals. Continuing Ph.D. work.

Dilip Kumar Tripathy, Studies art in Bhubaneswar and Art Historical at Santiniketan. Worked as Research Assistant in the Crafts council of Orissa. Done extensive field work in Orissa. Awarded Pha.D. For The Role of fine Arts in the Folk Theatres of South Orissa by the Berhampur University. Undertook a course in Art Conservation in NRLC, Lucknow. Contributed articles to Oddiyan, Six Contemporary Painters, 1997, Reference Orissa, 2000. Presently working in the Conservation Section, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.

Pradosh Kumar Mishra, studied Art History in Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh. Done field work with the stone carves of Lalitgiri in Orissa. Continuing Ph.D. project. Edited a monograph, Chandrasekhar Rao : Life and Work with Dinanath Pathy. Contributed article to Oddiyan, Six Contemporary Painters, 1997. Presently teaching Art History at the Banaras Hindu University.

Entering a Spell
In Orissa, there is a strong reliance on creative ingenuity, superior craftsmanship and will to survive to the extent of being resigned to fate. Therefore, emphasis on documentation of art objects has remained negligible. To be aware of the culture potentials is a recent trend. History projects the people of Orissa as brave and dynamic with many achievements in the field of arts. But one has to be content oneself with lack of artistic sensibility and nearly total apathy for the creative arts in the contemporary society and polity. Orissa is too bureaucratic and politicized with little space for the creative class to contribute in its making. To be distinguished and effective you have to choose either class. Here to survive as a creative as a creative artist is almost a miracle. You have to imagine a State without an art-gallery sponsoring and selling art works, industrial and corporate houses not coming in a big way to support the creative artists and a government whose budget shrink when you talk of creative arts. Art here is cheap book illustrations and sing writing or at best mass produced Konark replicas. To quote K.G. Subramanyan, “Today’s State is a managerial set-up concerned with the basic needs of man. Since these needs are becoming more and more complicated every year, art will never have high priority in a modern State, however affluent it may be. A State may claim interest in art and patronize art to a degree, to civilize its own image. But it cannot do more”. Many of our artist friends who had left Orissa when they were needs in their homeland to support the cause of modern art for prospects, career or easy survival are now a happy lot with name, fame and money. We, those of us who remained in this land of Konark have struggled to live as artists with dignity in the absence of patronage, media support and society art sensibilities. In this struggle are our teachers, contemporaries, friends, adversaries, juniors and students. No doubt we have emerged victorious with emerging art trends receiving world attention, we are worn out and withered. Today when we cross over to a new millennium, we remember with nostalgic verve our struggle – that has become the contemporary art history of this State. Also we do not fail to remember the achievements of Oriya artists who have been living and working “beyond the shore” – a term from the Oriya artists’ exhibition catalogue in Delhi. Contemporary art has failed to develop a language, the system of sustaining a wide spectrum of art-languages it had earlier is now obsolete. It does not even have dialects. Though seemingly speaking one common ‘international language’ – the language of contemporary and modernity, is driven into alienation. The gap is widening – between the local and the global, no more regional or national. We therefore have made here an attempt to take into stock the achievements as well as failures together in a stride with an anxiety to document for posterity.

The emphasis on documentation of art and art process with emphasis on the ‘visual’ aspects is amply evident in the book Orissa Kunst und Kulture in Nordost Indian published by the Museum Rietberg. Zurich in 1980 which accompanied an exhibition of classical, folk, tribal arts and performances from Orissa. Dr. Eberhard Fischer the primemover, the Director of the Museum, the only international Museum of non-European art in Europe, has remained sensitive to visual art practice not only of a single Indian state but worldwide where the artists live with their art and traditions. This has resulted in a world view of art situations and based on this vision Fischer has structured Orissa art as classical, primitive, rural and contemporary – contemporary in the sense of a continuing tradition in a single publication, never attempted before. His book has still as a comprehensive, well-meaning document fresh with superb quality visuals. The Government of Orissa’s attempt to get it translated into English failed.

Such analytical and creative research beyond the antiquarian interest comes to us a legacy of the unique study and artistic sensibility of the painter, sculptor Alice Boner who had worked on the Shipla traditions more than half a century ago with a penetrating and critical vision to fathom into the art-psyche than to factualise art as history. Being as artist herself, she could read the minds and working parameters of the artists better which the so called historians failed to perceive in their search for historical anecdotes. Her book New Light on the Sun Temple of Konark has remained unsurpassed. The scientific menthodology, artistic insight, scholarship and commitment that have gone into making this book are to be unquestionably appreciated and admired. We could relate these two books with two different thrusts, dimensions and engagements as a common basis of art-historical understanding and inquiry into our artists’ mindsets and working relations. We wish to respect these two research documents as documents of great consequences and value.

Dr. Eberhard Fischer chose to train a sensitive contemporary Orissan artist, Dinanath Pathy, two decades ago with the enormous take of documenting the art forms of continuing art practices with a vision and insight. Induction into such a study process was contrary to the historical studies of earlier days in Orissa. Dr. Fischer’s school of research is a departure from the lingering historical tangles-typically seen in museum studies or the practice of art- history in the department of Ancient art, culture, archaeology and history in Indian universities.

The intention of such a prelude is to find our the roots of art- ethological and art-historical research with linkages to studio practice in a fine art college of the kind we are hinting at in Orissa, where the artist is in the centre of the focus and dates and dynasties are kept aside for the time being. The other effort is to assess the benefits reaped by the Working Artists’ Association of Orissa from such research practices. Such an introduction therefore may seem remote at the beginning, but a closer introspection would reveal the strong links, which are rather vital in our context. We also bring into our purview and record our deep appreciation on the research done by Joanna Williams and J.P. Das. Their work on Orissa painting with emphasis on individual art-styles has opened up different dimensions and created awareness for individualistic studies.

I am perhaps more privileged to mention here that both Dinanath Pathy and J.P. Das are founder member of the Working Artists’ Association which had been officially formed in Bhubaneswar in 1973 (its initial starting was in 1969, with a publication), to recognise new experimentations in contemporary art. Both of them contributed significantly to the study of Orissan painting, while we present this book on the artists-scholars. Their efforts have remained exemplary in building up this organisation and to bring art-historical research to international heights.

Another important factor which finally helped us in getting this book published is the link with our founder member Pushpa Jain who is no more with us. Her untimely sad demise left relations. Her husband, our dear friend and admirer, Mahesh Chand Jain, has been instrumental in realizing our dreams, persuading MTNL to partly sponsor this Project. We are grateful to him as well as to the memory of his wife when this book goes to Print. This publication is more of a timely dedication to her loving memory.

This book is the result of an in-house indigenous teamwork headed by Dr. Pathy. Indigenous in the sense that all the scholars barring Alekh Charan Sahoo (who studies at Santiniketan and Baroda) are the products of B.K. Collage of Art and Crafts and Utkal University. They were the first student of art-history. We take pride in the contributions of Dr. Dilip Kumar Tripathy (who studied at B.K. Collage of Art. Bhubaneswar and at Santiniketan), Prodosh Kumar Mishra (who studies at B.K. Collage of Art Bhubaneswar and at Chandigarh) and Soubhagya Pathy (who Studied English literature and art-history at Utkal University and at Indira Kala Sangeet Viswa Vidyalaya, Khairagarh) which have enriched this publication. Sri Sahoo’s write-up on the Khallikote School of Art and Crafts gives a fair idea of recent art activities in the institution. We are therefore thankful to hi. The book had to be compiled, edited and sent to the press in a record in this of four months, the contributors have put in their best, derived from their long research in this line for years. I express my deep sense of gratitude to my friend and collegue Dinanath Pathy and his team of Researchers and contributors.

Most of the photographs for the book have been taken by Ramahari jena, D.N. Rao and Parabjit Singh. The book has been initially drafted at the Alice Boner Institute, Varanasi, Assi Sangam and typed on the computer by Dhirendra Humar Sahoo and later the final work at Avanti E 49/1386 Bhimatangi, Bhubaneswar by Soubhagya Pathy and P. Gita.

The designing of the book has been accomplished by Ramahari Jena, D.N. Rao and Balakrishna Nanda working together at Bhubaneswar and printing supervision by Dilip Kumar Tripathy at Delhi. I extend my thanks and appreciation for their good work.

The title book Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom ia aptly chosen from the old Chinese saying revalidate for the Chinese Culture Revolution in the recent past; the editor is not merely romantic but meaningful in a context when Orissa contemporary art is getting ascendance and coming within the purview of national and international debate. It is not only the aspiration of the editor or the Working Artists’ Association but of the people of Orissa to see Orissan contemporary art and artists grow and blossom spreading fragrance far and wide.

The Working Artists’ Association is probably the only organisatgion in Orissa which has embarked upon publishing a large number of standard books and catalogues on Orissa art during the last decades. Publication of books on art and artists in appreciable standard and getups has been our forte. May I be permitted to mention a few books which are vital for research on art. These are Jagannatha and the Oriya Artists, the Tribal Art – Primitivism and the Modern Relevance, Oddiyan – sex Contemporary Artists, Continuity in the Flux – Orissa, History of Traditional Orissan Paintings; plus the monograph series on contemporary artists - Dinanath Pathy, Sarat Chandra Debo, Siba Panigrahi and Chandrasekhar Rao. The present publication adds to the list and aspires to be base book on Orissan contemporary art.

We have written to all the practicing Orissan artists and institutions in Orissa and outside to respond. We have tried to contact most of them individually seeking thank those who earnestly deserve our thanks. Our publication would have been more fruitful if we had got responses from other artists and institutions, particularly the State Lalit Kala Akademi. Therefore the omission in this book is not intentional and does not undermine their valuable contribution to the cause of contemporary art. We once again extend our thanks to all contemporary artists practicing and non-practicing and art organizations active or dormant for their concern with this publication.

On behalf on the Working Artists’ Association I wish to thank the MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, Delhi) for their sponsorship and to the individual artists and friends for their financial help.

Finally, Sri Vikas Arya Books International, New Delhi, deserves our thanks for favourably responding to the challenge of printing this book – normally almost impossible a feat for a publisher working within a severely limited time frame.


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Pushpa Jain –A Homageix
Introduction Entering a Spellxiii
Editorial – An Insider’s Dilemmaxvii
1.The Emergence of Modernism : Art of The Last Five Decades (1950-2000) - Dinanath Pathy1
2.Khallikote in The 1980s And 1990s - Alekh Charan Sahu126
3.The Centre And The Periphery - Dilip Kumar Tripathy132
4.Spelling Regional Flavour - Prodosh Kumar Mishra 142
5.International And Envisioning The Future - Soubhagya Pathy169
Chronology of Events201
List of Illustrations213