Compiled by Badal and Swapna Mukhopadhyay, with a foreword by Aamir Khan
Lotus Roli Books, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 96, Rs. 995.00
A labour of love by devastated parents, Ali’s World is a collection of paintings by a budding artist Arpan (Ali) Mukhopadhyay.
Ali was an unusual child, with a difficult premature birth and childhood. Showing an early predilection for artistry, he developed a love for painting. An adolescent disdain for authority is part of the pains of growing up for many teenagers, but Ali showed a heightened tendency towards disregard and dissonance. But, aside from such inability to adjust, and with a hectic life unnaturally cut short, his art transcends all.
The book begins with a foreword by Aamir Khan, the renowned actor and presently, the immensely successful director of the
acclaimed Bollywood super hit—Taare Zamin Par. The foreword says
it all. One is mesmerized by the sheer variety and themes of the collection of paintings in all possible styles. There are elaborate and intricate designs, beautiful sketches, some marvellous ink on paper drawings, acrylic on canvas paintings and poster colors.
Some are unforgettable, among them being the sketch of ‘Durga in Pather Panchali’ which is a waterproof ink on transparency, a second that I like being Plate 41, ‘Untitled’ (Seated in Garden) and the third titled ‘The moon and two towers’ (Plate 46), acrylic and ink on canvas. The poignancy of the first example would probably be better appreciated by someone familiar with the story.
Some of the presentations are cheerful, assuring us of the joys of laughter and spring. Others are haunting and broody, heralding the empty sense of loss. For any artist to have created such an immense portfolio by the age of twenty shows great potential and incipient promise. It is with a sense of sorrow that one reads of a brilliant future cut short by a freakish accident.
Sridhar Majumdar lives in Bangladesh.