Anjan Modak is a contemporary painter based in Kolkata, India. A graduate of Rabindra Bharati University, he has been working for over a decade on the life of manual workers, such as the migrant construction labourers in the big city. Without taking any fixed ideological position, he depicts their life in a highly metaphorical visual language, expressing their dreams, despairs, and struggles.
Modak prefers paper to a more convenient canvas, even when doing large-format work. His paintings show his mastery of drawing, minimal use of colours, and dense linear texture, which give them deep, sensual feelings. The paper's white background, which enhances the graphic quality of the works, also appears like a blank space occupied by those denied any place in history. Modak's preference for the life of the oppressed, working-class people as his paintings' sole subject matter has its roots in his childhood. Growing up in the migrant labourers' community in Delhi, he saw their life closely as an insider, gradually becoming aware of the complexity of the subaltern mentality. This complexity, not the mere empirical truth of their life, informs Modak's paintings.
Drawing on elements from sources as diverse as art history, puppetry, and textbook illustrations, he has created a powerful language, blending realism with absurdity, the plain statement with irony and satire. What is significant about his work is that while capturing the broad emotional spectrum of the subaltern life, punctuated by injustice, insecurity and anomie, he does not turn victimhood into an identity, allowing power discourses to manifest themselves through the very physicality of their body and material culture.