The material man

Published Dec 20, 2013, 4:26 pm IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 1:29 am IST
Bengali artist Tanmay Samanta turns old and discarded commonly used objects into interesting artifacts that capture the imagination

Simple but complex. As contradictory as it sounds, it's how one could describe Tanmoy Samanta's art.

The West Bengal born artist is known for his Shantiniketan style paintings loaded with layered meanings. But for his current show, "All I have Learned and Forgotten", the 40-year-old has used recycled books, clocks, keys and other objects collected over the years.


“I initially thought of making painted pages but in the process, I started sticking the pages together to give them the identity of artifacts. I randomly picked up the objects over time and used them to connect to a memory, as I thought of these books as a souvenir," Samanta explains.

He adds, “In this show, I turned commonly used objects into motifs to make it easy to initiate a dialogue. The concept of learning, remembering and forgetting is the basis of this show, hence the title."

The artist browses through flea markets and street shops in lost alleys, to pick up old books, keys that don't open any locks, locks that are no longer capable of secur ing anything, watches that no longer keep time, and anything else he finds interesting.


Samanta's new body of work also includes threedimensional books. “Making these 3D books has been a process of metamorphosis as I transformed old and used books into a new form," he shares.

The concept of magical realism has always been dominant in his work.

“I was brought up in a literary environment so I draw a lot of inspiration from it, particularly magic realism," he says The form and function of the objects he uses do not conform to the expectations of habit and memory any more.

“A highly realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe," he explains. “I like playing with subtle visual puzzles that force viewers to make their own interpretations. The elements in the work may look simple, but then an ordinary object suddenly becomes sinister in its behaviour," Samanta adds.


The exhibition will continue at Gallery Espace, New Friends Colony, New Delhi until January 12, 2014.