Mural art is rooted deep in Indian culture. Over centuries, traditional art forms have emerged throughout India, representing local culture and traditions. However, today, with quick and easy travel and instant access to information from around the world, a number of artists are incorporating global elements to represent the unique local cultures. One of them is Suman Kabiraj from Kolkata.
Suman Kabiraj is a passionate artist from the city of Kolkata who has transformed the landscape of the city with his lively, fresh murals that depict stories of Kolkata and India -stories of resilience. His art is uniquely contemporary in style while depicting the age old traditions, people and culture of our country.
He pursued his MFA from Government College of Art and Craft, University of Calcutta in 2007. Ever since, he has made an indelible mark on different sites of Calcutta with his vast mural work and represented the country in several contemporary art shows and art events worldwide. He has also received several prestigious awards and scholarships like the Governor’s gold medal, Kalanand National award ,Kalanand Scholarship, Gaganendranath Tagore Memorial Award, Camlin Euro Professional Visit Scholarship, Rashbehari Dutta Memorial Award, Sunil Das Scholarship , Gopen Roy Memorial Award and the Mukul Dey graphics Award.
Suman Kabiraj has carved his niche in the world of art. We wanted to know more about his journey and spoke to him over the phone. The following is his interaction with him.
How did you begin your journey as an artist? Where did all of this start?
While I was in school, I was attracted to drawing and painting, no matter what subject it was. I was very happy to draw geography diagrams or biology diagrams. As I pursued my interest, a few of my achievements in national children’s art contests encouraged me. While I was pursuing my Masters, I got a chance to go to Europe through an art foundation and visited different traditional and modern-day art galleries and museums of London and Paris. It became an opportunity for me to open my eyes via world art and grasp master artists’ works to view. After completion of my MFA in art college I began to do experiments and attempted to construct my very own art language.
What were the challenges you faced in carving your niche and being successful as an artist?
The primary challenge for artists is staying motivated and consistent. Creating art can be a long and arduous process. It requires dedication and hard work. Staying focused and dedicating time and resources to creating artwork is essential for an artist to develop their craft and create pieces that can stand out.
In addition to that, as with any creative endeavor, financial stability can be an obstacle. It is important for an artist to have an understanding of the economical side too. Additionally, an artist must be able to network and find opportunities to showcase their artwork. That takes time and effort.
Why did you choose India, and particularly Kolkata as your muses? What drives your passion to represent our country in your work?
As a creative artist, India has always been a source of inspiration for me. With its vibrant culture, colorful festivals, and rich history, it is the perfect muse for me to express my creative ideas through my art. I also find inspiration in the beauty and charm of India’s landscapes and culture. For me, India is a land of dreams, a place of endless possibilities. By creating art inspired by our country, I hope to bring the beauty, spirit, and culture of India to life.
Kolkata, in particular, has been my main source of inspiration. I’m constantly in awe of the city’s vibrancy, its bustling streets, people and its diverse cultures. Its architecture, with its grand edifices and colossal buildings, provides me with endless inspiration for my art. The hustle and bustle of the city, its chaotic energy, and the warm hospitality of its inhabitants make it a great place to explore and create.
You had mentioned that your style is a combination of classic and contemporary art forms. What art forms are you most influenced by, and what themes are you primarily interested in?
Different art forms of classical Indian art and western modern and contemporary art constitute my language of art. Mughal and Rajasthani miniature art and their exceptional architectural styles are represented in a recontextualized pattern in my works. Sometimes, very different themes from nuclear power symbols to geographical diagrams, and the beauty of the structure of even microorganisms inspire me. My artwork is very diverse, but is usually naturalistic.
How has art influenced you in other spheres of your life?
Art can have a major impact on an artist’s outlook and their approach to life. The act of creating art is a form of therapy- to work through difficult emotions and challenges that arise in my life. By focusing on the creative process, an artist can draw on their inner strength and find a way to express themselves in a unique way. This can also lead to a greater understanding of one’s own emotions and ideas, which can lead to greater self-confidence as I have experienced.
Art can also be a source of inspiration for me. Seeing the world in art can spark new ideas and give me a sense of motivation. This can help to stay focused on my own creative goals. It can also help to stay connected to my passion, even when it feels like I lost my way.
Through art, an artist can share their ideas and feelings, and connect with like-minded people. This can help to build relationships, as well as to spread awareness about certain causes or issues.
From your perspective as an artist, how does art influence and change the world?
Art has the power to educate and inform. Art can be used to teach important values such as justice and equality. It can also be used to promote awareness about important social issues such as climate change, poverty, and inequality.
It also helps bring people together. By creating art, people can share their experiences and perspectives with others. Art can be used to bridge cultural divides, inspire conversations, and foster understanding.
A message to aspiring artists?
First, it is important to understand that success in the art world begins with passion. If you are passionate about art, you will be more likely to find success and fulfilment in the art world. Passion is the driving force behind any successful artist, and it is essential that you nurture your passion for art in order to achieve success.
Second, it is important to develop a strong portfolio of work. Whether you are a painter, sculptor, photographer, or any other type of artist, having a portfolio of work that showcases your skills and talents is essential for success. A portfolio of work will give potential clients or galleries a sense of who you are as an artist and what type of art you create.
While many overlook this, it is also very important to build relationships with other artists and art professionals. Having a strong network of contacts can help you to find opportunities, make connections, and get your work seen.
Finally, it is important to stay true to yourself and your art. Don’t be afraid to experiment and create art that expresses who you are. Your art should reflect your unique perspective and style, and it should be something that you are proud of.
Ultimately, I believe that success in the art world is possible, but it is up to you to find your own path and make your dreams a reality.