The Telegraph, Tuesday, 20 january 2004
Rupanjali Baruah looks beyond pain
Window to a World of Light and Shade


January 19 : She had let her creativity flow with the ink and now she has emerged out of what she calls a “dark tunnel of pain” as an artist. The first solo exhibition of writer-turned-artist Rupanjali Baruah opened on Sunday in the city, bringing alive the trauma of a mother who has lost her son. After the tragedy in 1995, she tried to look beyond the casement to a world of light and shade that “brings in entirely different contours.”
“Windows” is what Rupanjali Baruah calls her collection of paintings. She has created them over the years as part of her private collection.
Her assorted collection was inaugurated by artist Neel Paban Baruah at the Artists’ Guild Gallery at Chandmari “I see a lot of light in spite of the shadows through this window. The various hues, the canvas and the paintbrush were like a survival kit for me when I was going through a traumatic period, “said Rupanjali.
She owes her inspiration to Neel Paban Baruah, lovingly called Neelda. “Neelda had used limited space and created landscapes on matchboards and cardboards. I have tried to make the best use of whatever space I got,” Rupanjali said.
In his inaugural address, Neel Paban Baruah said, “Every new creation by an individual ushers in a new ray of hope for mankind. There is no age for creation.”
Recounting his encounters with Rupanjali, he said : “She had once come to my house. She was so awestruck by a tilted branch of a tree that she had dissuaded me from cutting it. Though I had hurt my forehead many a times, I have refrained from cutting that particular branch.” Her collection of 64 paintings has been done on various media ranging from oil on matchboxes, oil on cardboard, acrylic on paper, oil on paper, mixed media, oil on canvas and collage (acrylic on paper). All her works seem to unfold an organic human process, which has been honed with practice and psychological and human endeavor. “Rupanjali has her own way of surrendering to colours. This attains its own complexity because she chooses to work with given and defined surfaces,” said critic Pardip Acharya Baruah.
Rupanjali has never received any technical training at an art school. “I have never been a student of art, but I am a learner all the time. I had gone to an art school to get my son admitted and there I got to meet artist Dilip Tamuly. He saw some of my pieces and urged me to carry on,” she said.
“Tamuly said he would not interfere with my art and asked me to continue painting,” Rupanjali added. She admits, “There is a lot of sadness in these colours. But these are positive colours which accord the inspiration to carry on even if you lose somebody.” For Rupanjali, colours have opened up her inner world. “The colours disappear into some sort of a horizon. I work through shadow and light and in spite of my loss, I have derived the strength to carry on.”



The Assam Tribune, Guwahati 11

Debashish Bezbaruah

Windows’, an exhibition of paintings of Rupanjali Baruah, inaugurated by Neel Pawan Baruah on January 18, is going on at the same gallery. The most interesting aspect of this exhibition is Rupanjali’s choice of surface. The pages of magazines allow her to utilize the intensity of the already existing colours and dark backgrounds to good effect, enhanced by the patterns she makes with bold, broad brushstrokes of mostly black. These squarish patterns, made with mature hands, create an abstract maze of movements while the existing colours maintain the harmony on her canvases. In looking beyond the windows which bring to her a “collective perspective”, she is also introspecting and seems to find an echo in herself. Her works are only seemingly effortless, for the improvisation on the ready-made surfaces, in fact, complements her way of looking at things. She also uses the texture of newspaper pieces to achieve something similar. The 64-odd painting suite, punctuated by the cute, little paintings made on flattened matchboxes, makes delightful viewing. It continues till 8 pm today.


The Telegraph Saturday 8 December 2001

Rupanjali Baruah portrays the sculptor as a young man

Personality : Chandra Bora


Chandra Bora is a young entrant in the field of sculpture. He experiments with wood to try and discover a new idiom to transmute not just his artistic temperament but also his search for truth. Bora wishes his new lessons would emerge from the contours of wood. His materials are, as the artist explains, collected at random. A piece of driftwood or a small tree stump on a river bank sometimes leads to an accidental discovery. Sometimes he deliberately picks a particular piece of wood and shapes it to a form of his choice. He permits these pieces of wood to season at least for a year to test their durability and tonal quality.

The essential sculptural aspects of mass, tension, texture are well-handled by the artist. Bora’s likes to allow the message to emanate from each object d’art. As a result, the focus of the viewer falls readily on what the artist is trying to communicate : nothing much is kept cryptic there. In one such display called Jugal Murti, two figures are entwined symbolizing the union between man and woman. The bulk of wood that holds them together is also made an essential part of that disposition. This shows that the artist surveys not just the apparent outlines but utilized the hidden contours to make a significant statement.

A deeper, mature link with life, its parils, misgivings, moods and melodies in future will create in this artist an awareness of the importance of the stress of the psyche that will subsequently reflect in stronger bolder images through his carvings.

Sculpting marvels – Bora in 1971, Chandra Bora hails from Kampur, Nagaon. His struggle and success in the field of sculpture in such a short span of time is a remarkable achievement indeed. Bora’s tryst with wood began in his childhood which he spend roaming in the suburbs of his village, his eyes looking curiously for stronger, newer shapes among branches and fallen twigs of trees. Perhaps here began his search for meaningful images in wood.

Thus nature in its abundant variety became his constant source of inspiration. It provided him with endless materials for his experiments. He cannot think of severing his art from nature. So far, Chandra Bora has chiseled more than 150 sculpted figures that range from images of men, women, masks, dragons, birds, Ganeshas and Natrajs.
Chandra Bora held his debut exhibition of wood sculpture in 1986 under the aegis of the local Greenhorn Club. This maiden venture was highly lauded by the renowned artist from Nagaon, Pranab Barua. The finesse in Chandra Bora’s work held and captured the great artist’s attention.

Necessary impetus : The encouragement gave Bora the necessary impetus to go ahead in his artistic endeavour. Timely financial support came his way from two well-wishers, Manju Bharali and Tirtha Bharali. Since then, Bora has not looked back. only ahead. In 1998, the sculptor held another successful exhibition at the State Art Gallery, Guwahati that provided him with a wider platform. His continuous diligence has caused a particular individual language to emerge from the contours of his figures, there is a sinewy tautness in most of them. Recently, in September 2001, Chandra Bora held an exhibition of his carvings called Anweshan at Earth Song, Guwahati. It included 40 displays titled Matrisneh, Samarpan, Anweshan, Matsyagandha, Mask, Ganesh, Natraj and many more.
Contact with prominent artists of Assam like Sobha Brahma, Nil Pawan Barua and their ilk provided this upcoming artist with essential education, an education which taught him to look at his art objectively and understand the limitations that he might have to root out in the process of his growth as an artist.

Rising Star : At present, it is lack of adequate finances he had to face and overcome to fulfill his dream – to take his creations to the national galleries across the country. Perhaps some concerted effort in this regard will enable this rising star of Assam to shine gloriously in future. Chandra Bora, who has had no formal training in sculpture, deserves credit for his individual craftsmanship that is already way ahead in its search for an identity.The endeavour in art, particularly, in sculpture, does take time to germinate. In Assam, where understanding of art and its acceptance has been a slow process, the individual struggle and achievement of sculptor Chandra Bora deserves merit.

Pleasant reminder : He comes across as a pleasant reminder to other young upcoming artists of Assam trying to carve out an individual niche for an artist with grit, determination, patient and hard work. The words of world-famous sculptor, Prodosh Dasgupta, echo the spirit of such an artist. “I tread on life’s path clinging desperately the kindly gift of it awarded without asking.”


The Telegraph Saturday 10 August 2002


Art can provide the right kind of salvation to a lonely soul. It illuminates life and bestows the rare gift to dispossess sadness, regrets and disappointments and replace them with a positive zest for life. It was this the Pulak Gogoi discovered through his brush, canvas and palette. Painting became a means to uplift him emotionally, when several hardships in his personal life had almost defeated him.

The artist discovered slowly and certainly the merit that lay in his own handiwork. For him, his art works at two levels – his aesthetic sense as an artist is enriched with each successful brushstroke and it gives him the recognition that is due to him.

There were many difficulties, disappointments strewn across Gogoi’s path to success, but his positive attitude of accepting life and its happenings in a lighter, cheerful vein has enabled him to maintain a joyful disposition – almost a kind of bonhomie that has always come to his rescue.

Born in 1940 at Jorhat in Upper Assam, Gogoi grew up in a family, which gave him the right kind of artistic ambience, which was nurtured fully in the later years. His professional involvement in the genre of art began in 1961. He joined The Assam Tribune in 1962 as a commercial artist and contributed political cartoons that helped him develop a sense of illustration and design. He was the first artist in Assam to pick up political cartooning as an important medium to comment on contemporary issues.

In 1963, Gogoi took up painting and began to pursue it wholeheartedly. In 1966, he held his first exhibition of paintings in the Nabin Bordoloi hall, Guwahati. He still rues the low attendance of viewers. “That was a time when art was given a backseat, and not understood and appreciated as an important facet of life.” Gogoi says. However, such disappointments could not deter him from his quest. Towards the end of that year, he shifted to Calcutta and began, after much financial hardship, to edit and publish a political magazine, Cartoon.

Gogoi had by then married and had a daughter. The family lived in a small motor garage paying Rs. 20 as rent – living conditions that would have crushed the spirit of any other man, but Pulak Gogoi’s indomitable spirit faced all those difficulties and survived. At Calcutta, he joined as Chief Assistant Editor of Amar Pratinidhi, an Assamese magazine edited by Bhupen Hazarika.

Sometimes in 1968, however, Gogoi returned to Assam and resumed oil painting – this time more seriously. During this phase, he was much inspired and encouraged by late Pranab Baruah. He exhibited several of his works and began to be noticed as a serious, consistent artist with a vision. He could sell many of his paintings and that earned him a steady, regular livelihood – a possibility that had seemed remote only a few years ago.

In 1971, Gogoi held his exhibition at AIFACS in New Delhi. He was the first Assamese artist to hold an exhibition in the reputed Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (1972), which is a “pilgrimage” for most Indian artists. That year he also exhibited his work in the Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta. Soon after, his focus shifted to another horizon – the West.

In 1972, J.G. Borpujari, an economist, got the Art Society of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund to sponsor Pulak Gogoi’s visit to the US. The artist held a month long exhibition at the Hodges Gallery, Washington, where he sold out all his 27 paintings within two hours of its opening. In the January 1988 issue of Desh magazine, Gogoi featured among 40 celebrated artists of the country, based on a study by Ashok Mitra, on artists and their trends from 1937 to 1987.

When Gogoi returned from the US, he took up a new line of interest – film-making. While in the US he had seen a good many films, inspiring him to make films on similar lines. He experimented with this new genre in his debut film Khoj, Gogoi explaints, “I wanted to see how those figures which I had so far captured in my canvases would look like if they are given a life, become animated on celluloid. So in Khoj, I chose a sprightly girl and dramatized her awareness of social injustice and practices by the men around her, I used the fixed image of scarecrows, I also gave a quick motion to a flight of birds and the ripple of a river, elements I had so long treated in a particular dimension on my canvas.” Filmmaking thus became a different and challenging oeuvre altogether.

Though Khoj did not see much success, it gave him the experience of handling a medium where the possibilities of exploring themes, patterns and emotions were endless. It was like another lens, that opened a wider vista to the artist in him.

His later films – Srimati Mahimayi, Morom Nadir Gabharu Ghat, Sadori, Suruj, Relor Alir Dubori Bon – were the result of his consistent efforts to refine his treatment of this new genre.

In 1993 his Relor Alir Dubari Bon won the Rajat Kamal award for best regional film. Gogoi has made eight films altogether. He has also directed several documentaries and TV serials for Doordarshan. He was twice on the jury in the Indian Panorama, Patni is his latest undertaking, based on “pure Assamese sentiments and background.” Pulak Gogoi believes that there must be a difference between a mere craftsman and an artist per se. He marvels at Pollock’s handling of abstract themes and says it is that kind of original genius that every artist must discover within him. The search for that perfection may take a lifetime but when it is achieved then one can say positively that an artist, like a true pilgrim, has progressed and arrived at his revered spot in life.

El Greco, the 16th century artist and his figures with impossible heads and colour dissonance inspired Gogoi during his early years. But then, Gogoi believes that while an artist may look for motifs in great masters, in myths, legends, parables of his own homeland, he must work within his own vision and discover a particular message to deliver.

Most of the artist’s subject matter is focused on societal values, relationship drawn from myths, history, religion as well as from contemporary events, people and their lives. Talking about his growth as an artist. Gogoi says, “My drawings have changed. I can see maturity in my line movement. Though I must say, I am still growing as an artist. “He confesses, “After a work is over, a sense of incompleteness always haunts me, as it were there is much to be said yet. It is often a very gripping feeling.”

Gogoi’s motifs are drawn from tribal folk sources. He looks for rhythm and joy in every life-movement and consequently his figures, whether it be a drummer or a dancer, communicates spiritual ecstasy. This arises out of the artist’s own spiritual affiliation with a system of belief where faith, tradition, roots and religion matter. He confesses he is hurt when he sees people disrespecting tradition, culture and their own roots. “One should not be superficial. It kills the joy of living.”

Gogoi has lived life on the edge. He has worked with line and colour, explored film-making and both have involved him in an intense, exhaustive manner.

With meager resources at his disposal, he often had to distance himself from being a firebrand artist and settle down to a way of life where the boundaries between aesthetic development and personal avenues are ever wide, always challenging.

His struggles have given a leavening effect to his art, he has found a new breath in art to push ahead, follow his dream with grit and gusto. His primal tryst with colour and his subsequent experiments on celluloid are to many of his critics and admirers, pointers to the striving spirit of this artist of Assam.

North-East India Summit

In the recently concluded two-day North-East India Investment Summit at Sarusajai, Guwahati, Assam on the 11th and 12th ofJanuary where more than 70 NRI’s from 10 countries attended, WordsmithPublishers participated to showcase SABD and a catalogue designed andcompiled by Rupanjali Baruah of eminent artwork of 13 artists of Assamand their paintings as well as a set of 6 greeting cards with artwork ofRupanjali Baruah. The exhibition also displayed books by some eminent writers of Assam- Leena Sarma, Rupanjali Baruah, Moushumi Kondoli,Pankaj Thakur and Mallika Kondoli. It also organised an art workshop ofwater color by 10 young student artists from Government College of Artand Craft, Guwahati.

This endeavor brought together art, culture andliterature under one canopy. Every creative endeavor requires supportand recognition.