As a part of a series of art talks being organised every Wednesday by Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK), art talk – ‘Contemporary Printmakers of India’ was presented. The talk was attended by eminent artists– Mr. Uttam Kumar Basak from Shantiniketan, Mr. Gajraj Chavan from Pune and Mr. Niaz Majumdar from Dhaka. They were in conversation with Mr. Sanjay Roy from New Delhi. The talk was moderated by Director General, JKK, Ms. Kiran Soni Gupta.
Mr. Uttam Basak said that in Shantiniketan, printmaking came a long time ago and its development reached great heights. The linocut work done by Nandalal Bose in children’s books is one of the prime examples of printmaking in the city. People have limited knowledge of printmaking because it is a new medium. By hosting programmes and discussions such as this, the word of printmaking can reach many people, he said. He also showed some of his own works and said that printmaking is mostly done in 4-5 mediums, these include – etching, lithograph, screen printing , linocut, monocut, viscosity, among others.
Mr. Niaz Majumdar said that each and every step of making the print making plates is a very unique and creative process. However, today printmaking as an art form is not at par with painting and its value is low in the market. This is mostly because it is a print not an original work. However, slowly collectors who only collect prints are emerging in the market. Talking about history of printmaking, he said that the negative and positive seals that have been discovered during the Indus Valley civilization shows that printmaking is as old as Mohenjo-daro Harappa. He also showed some of the works of eminent printmaker, Somnath Hore and introduced the wood cut and linocut works of political artist, Chittaprosad Bhattacharya.
Sharing his printmaking journey, Mr. Chavan said that during college printmaking was never a separate subject neither was there a separate department for it. Upon observing the work of senior artists, he gained inspiration and interest in printmaking. However, he was forced to shift to woodcut and linocut due to unavailability of printmaking equipment like printing press and acid bath. He started working from home on woodcut and linocut using the ‘spooning’ method. Even though he now has machinery available he still prefers the ‘spooning’ method due to ability to create different dimensions and tonal values each time which machines cannot do.
Earlier, Mr Sanjay Roy give a brief introduction of the landscape of printmaking in India. He said that printmaking is a part of Fine Arts like paintings, drawings and sculptures. Egyptians and the Chinese had gained knowledge of print making process many years ago. Printmaking took on the form of art for the first time in Japan and was brought to India by the British. then slowly printmaking spread to West Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra and many other regions of India.
Ms. Kiran Soni Gupta said that printmaking is an area of art which still requires much promotion. Students as well as art enthusiasts need to acquire in-depth knowledge about printmaking. Students’ accessibility to the press is very important and as such facilities need to be created across different cities and every art school.