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Journey of Artist Anup Mitra

‘You are back!’

He was trying to enter home quietly on tiptoe. His father would be busy catching up with the unread articles in the newspaper delivered in the morning. He hoped for an undetected arrival for himself.

But his hope of returning home in secret was shattered at the voice of his father.

He replied mutely, ‘Yes I am back.’

‘Did you check the list?’ Eagerness and optimism resonated in his father’s tone.

He removed the shoes and arranged them neatly lingering at the shoe-rack for a long moment as if it called for the finest sense of aesthetics.

Now his father sounded impatient, ‘I am asking you! Did you check the list?’

He turned to face his father slowly but did not meet his eyes. ‘Yes, I did.’

‘And?’ His father demanded.

‘Well, my name is not there in the list.’ He mumbled.

‘What? You mean you did not even secure a low rank? Ridiculous!’

He remained silent gazing at the tiled floor.

His father shook his head in agony and turned away muttering, ‘You are not even capable of doing a polytechnic in engineering! I do not know how you will sustain yourself when you grow up! Everybody got to earn their bread, you know!’

He waited a while until his father stopped noticing his presence. Then he quietly walked into his room at the corner of the house. He was not sad. His eyes were not holding an impending tear of sorrow. He was relieved; almost jubilant! In fact, he was holding a vague smile too on his lips. Because, finally, the ghost of engineering left his life. In reality, he did not even go to check the list of candidates shortlisted for the course of Engineering Polytechnic. He lied to his father that his name was not there. He did not even know. Neither did he bother.

He knew only one thing for sure. He must learn art. After passing his exams of standard twelfth, he kept appearing for the entrance exams of various art colleges in the city. But as fate had it, he could not crack any of the exams. Finally, he took up bio science for graduation. But still, the catcalls from the world of art never ceased. When he became already a graduate in Bio Science, fortune smiled. And soon he walked into the campus of Rabindra Bharati University for a second graduation but in fine arts.

And then there was no looking back. After graduation, he did his masters from Shantiniketan and emerged in flying colors as one of the top five students. In the Academy of Fine arts, his paintings were exhibited time and again even when he was a student in the art college. Several awards came on his way.

Since then, he had held countless exhibitions across the globe. Even if he could have earned a luxurious living through painting, he chose to stay associated with the film industry. For diversion of spirit and to keep his art disconnected from commercial influence, he attached himself with one of the leading media houses of Mumbai.

He believes in painting the truth overlooked by the people. He does not feel happy painting a flower like a flower as if captured by an expensive DSLR camera. He says it is the job of the camera, not the artist. An artist must paint the fragrance of the flower or the sharpness of its thorns.

Another fascination of him is Nostalgia. An indomitable yearning to return. That is why in his paintings, man-pulled rickshaws and kites come back again and again. He cherishes childhood memories of running through the lanes after a falling kite in red or yellow.

In an international exhibition, an old woman came looking for him. When she met him, she said, ‘Not you! I want to meet the artist.’ He, in his characteristic demure tone, said, ‘I am the artist.’

The old lady took a few steps back to have a good look at him. And then exclaimed, ‘Strange! I saw your paintings in the catalogue and thought that the artist must be an old man! Are you not too young to admire the past?’

He laughed. ‘No. Everyone has a past. Even a toddler.’

His paintings came with spirits of various phases of his life. He says that an entire series painted many years ago was reflection of the sense of loss he endured out of a broken affair.

When Romartika Correspondent spoke to him, he said, ‘You know, people look at my paintings. They appreciate my art and even collect them at good price. But I rarely see them smiling when they stare at the images. They look sad.’

Our correspondent said, ‘Yes. Your paintings are celebration of melancholy.’

He reflected for a moment. ‘I think, even sorrow contains happiness in its womb.’

Our correspondent teased him, ‘Melancholy is a charming element in an intellectual. How about marriage? Are you not going to settle in the arms of someone?’

He smiled, ‘May be. May not be. After all, art chose me. I belong to art. Should I invite another lover in my life?’

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