Kanak Chanpa’s tribute to the Chakmas

November 19, 2014

Kanak Chanpa’s tribute to the Chakmas-The Chakma community, like other communities of the hill tracts of the country, has been mired in political unrest and conflicts for long. In spite of the community’s engagement in weathering hard times, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, an insider of the largest ethnic community and a prominent artist, chooses not to directly address the political struggles of her people in her artworks. The artist rather suggests that perhaps contemplating on what seems to be not there might be a more direct way of getting rid of present hardships.
Kanak informed New Age that the lack, or better to say absence, of the present reality is intentional. The artist has avowedly tried to ‘recapture the time when beauty and spirit, love and legends reigned in the hills, when man and nature were one’. This seems to be the way of transcending present plights in the world that Kanak paints.
Presenting one single ethnic community in its real and imagined colours and contours began with Kanak’s 2012 solo where she painted, represented the Mro community. In her ongoing solo (20th) titled Life is Here at Bengal Art Lounge, Kanak has paid tribute to her own community, the Chakmas, with 80 brilliant paintings.
To come to what the paintings abound in, the simplest and surest answer will be- beauty. The ‘spirited traditions’, to take Kanak’s words, of a people and the unspoiled vastness and richness of the place they find themselves in are present in the paintings.
Kanak’s canvasses are, as usual, almost monopolised by women. Men appear there only to stress the subjectivity and centrality of women.
For example, from the large two acrylic paintings titled Festival 1(465X186cm) and Festival 2 (180X360cm) to the smallest Face series (30X30cm), most of the paintings are preoccupied by women, with the exception of paintings like Huntsmen.
Kanak Chanpa has her explanation to be women-centric. She says, ‘In plains and in hills, women are similarly cornered, even though they often contribute more than men to their families. I therefore prefer to centralise women in my works.’
Kanak Chanpa presents Chakma women invariably in their traditional outfits and ornaments. Her skilled use of layers of colours, to take words from art critic professor S Manzoorul Islam, ‘induces a meditative quality’ and evokes serenity.
Another noticeable feature of the works is presentation of seasonal and temporal beauties which accompany the women. Kanak’s women are hued by the Spring, by dawn and dusk. Works like Spring Ascends, Sunset Beauty, A Walk at Dusk, In the Midst of Spring (series), Evening Break, Fading Light, Shore at Twilight and some others testify to this attribute.
Chakma women, performing their daily works like working in the field, doing household chores, also inhabit some of Kanak’s canvasses.
The exhibition, in short, invites the visitors to a dreamlike world that is fading fast in reality, but taking permanent place in the artist’s imagination.
Inaugurated on November 15, the exhibition will be open to all from 12:00pm to 8:00pm till December 6.

-With New Age input

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