Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sarnath Banerjee’s gripping graphics

Known as a graphic novelist and artist, Sarnath Banerjee is also a film-maker. Born in Kolkata, he lives and works in New Delhi. A fine mix of the whimsical and the almost surreal, succinct detail of the everyday, his work ‘The Harappa Files’ well defies set definitions and notions.

After securing a degree in biochemistry, the restless creator completed an MA (Image & Communication) from Goldsmiths College, University of London. ‘Corridor’ (2004; published by Penguin Books, India), his first novel, was probably first ever graphic novel in India. ‘The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers’ by him was another successful foray in the genre of graphic novel in 2007. He also did illustrations for novels by other authors.

The co-founder of Phantomville, a comics publishing house, terms himself ‘a recorder of a fast-changing India. He also points out that he doesn't really lament, having grown up in an India of elitism and other social problems. Talking of pairing both art and literature or image and narrative, he mentions that he felt it to be the most suitable form for him in which to express his artistic concerns.

Instead of employing words to elaborate on his pictures or vice versa, Sarnath Banerjee views his graphics as ‘organically complete units of meaning’. Whatever be the medium, he deals with fragmented realities in the cities; co-relate the past and the present in relation, and examine myths, morality and such stereotypes in post-colonial India.

Last year his select works were featured at FIAC – International ContemporaryArt Fair courtesy Project 88. The new series by him, entitled ‘Bicarbonates’, looked to visit the idea of imperfect twins. Employing almost-identical pairs of deft drawings, the artist explored the concept of the reverse animation, wherein the tiniest of interventions in a drawing create a large comment sans any progression in time. The Grand Palais had unveiled this magnificent showcase of modern & contemporary art with international galleries featuring solo, group and thematic exhibition.

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