“In the silence of the night when I take a break from my work, and sit alone in the balcony, I see a young boy with a bag on his shoulder and a drawing board in his hand. Black clouds cover the sky while people take shelter from the rain, but the boy sits on the steps of the monument under an open sky – and the rain pours. The streets are full of crowds and everyone is running. He does not know for what? He is sitting on the huge iron pipes at Metro Railways, placed on the mud hills on the sides of Park Street. He sits for hours – from evening to midnight – with no one to ask for any explanation! Freedom?
A feeling, which he cannot explain but which makes him wander and sketch even late into the Durga Puja evenings. He has a desire to be involved with color and brush, an interest to see people with their peculiarities. He even has a pain for ruined houses, the whisper of their doors and windows. These keep taking this boy away from himself towards an unknown world. He is walking in the silence of the night with his bag on his shoulder and a board in his hand; he goes far and fades away.
The fire of the cigarette touches my finger and shakes me. I put it off and stop introspecting. I make believe that I am still that young boy painting innocently. I sit before my blank canvas and go ahead with my work.”
These are the words of the young phenomenon, Sanjay Bhattacharya, who took the art world by storm barely a decade or so back and is regarded as one of the youngest masters of the Indian art scene today.The exquisite detail and form, the delicate treatment of light and shade, the absolute realism in his paintings are nothing but sheer ecstasy for the viewer. He had the rare distinction of being the only artist below forty who could sell his art in the open market at fabulous prices.
He refuses to be restricted by the limitations of media, but embraces freedom in an evocative manner to speak to the viewer about the drama in the lives of people, be they hunched and crowded in cities like Kolkata or spread in the hinterland. Sanjay Bhattacharya has painted in oil, water color, acrylic and has in recent past did sketches. But like most artists from Bengal he too is known more for water colors and oil works. Sanjay’s figurative images are quite close to those found in the works of the Dutch realist painters or the French 18th century painters.
Sanjay’s brush has the power to command President(s) of India and other political personalities to sit still for hours . His brush with the political personalities began with the late Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, whose wife Sonia Gandhi commissioned to him a series on her late husband for the India House in London. After which President Shankar Dayal Sharma and President KR Narayanan expressed desire to be portrayed on his canvas.
Sanjay’s passion is to capture the drama around real life in which intimate objects figure more prominently. He plays with architectural elements to evoke reality. Like old, vacant houses. “They are of great interest to me. They tell me stories of people who lived there, who loved there, or fought there. There is a lot of colour and texture in their decaying walls, if only we took the trouble of seeing them,” says Sanjay.
His love for Kolkata is written clear on his canvas. There is Kolkata decaying, Kolkata the city of dilapidated palaces of the 19th century rich, Kolkata of the faded British grandeur. He paints and writes. His poetry has been published with the name “Visual Rhapsody”.
Student of realist painter Bikash Bhattacharya, Sanjay has surpassed the guru and has been able to cast a magic spell on each one whose eyes have taken a glance at his works. Sanjay has participated in many national and international shows and coordinated with artists, musicians, theatre personalities and did immense number of shows. His work have thus found its space in many noteworthy public and private collections in India and overseas.He endeavors to blend the inner and outer realities, or maybe confront one to another.
“How do you judge a civilisation? Kings may be forgotten, but art is remembered. The names of those artists who created that art too may not be known, but their work stands the test of time. And in this is the crux of the matter,” believes Sanjay Bhattacharya.
Says Sanjay, “If I ever write my autobiography, the last line will be: My entire life I was fed by the blind and the fools. My father used to say that you who don’t study, will learn form the sign boards. And this is what happened. All through my life I studied life through the signboards strewn across the path of my life.”