A Simple Life
Works by Santanu Debnath
12th November to 31st December, 2021
A Simple Life presents a series of works on paper by Santanu Debnath, painted during the prolonged isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic. Portraying scenes from a village, Betpukur, where he hails, the paintings reflect his intimate ways of seeing, revealing the subtle layers of the idyllic rural life. Born and raised in Betpukur, a small village in Burdwan, West Bengal, Santanu has moved to Kolkata to study Painting at the Government College of Art. Living in the complexities of urban life, he carries a deep sense of belonging to his birthplace.
With the closing down of the schools and colleges due to the pandemic lockdowns and subsequent restrictions, students left the campus and returned home. As Santanu returned to Betpukur during the monsoon, he could not but enjoy the simple beauty of his village, and the lush greens flooded his palette. He noticed families coming together, the return of the lost games, melancholic leisure amidst the acute financial crisis and loss of work and education. The beauty and peace of the pastoral life thus seeped into the anxieties of modern life. Pensive and poignant, this series of paintings holds onto this wavering pause, assured of its temporality, tinged with a sense of both loss and longing.
Santanu Debnath is the only painter in his village. Working alone in his studio, he merges visions, memories, and imaginations spontaneously in the compositions. His fine, delicate brushstrokes resemble, with patient repetition, the patience of nature itself. His paintings, created in style akin to hatching/cross-hatching, have the sensibility usually present in detailed naturalistic drawings. It draws one closer to the pictures, the people and their lives, the murmur of leaves, the rustle of the grass, animals' habits, and so on. His paintings, however, do not narrate stories. Instead, they depict moments suspended in time. The alienation of modern city life infuses into his ways of seeing his village – a quiet solitude.
Born in Betpukur, a village in Bardhaman, West Bengal in 1995, Santanu Debnath did his Bachelor’s in Painting from Indian College of Arts and Draftsmanship(Rabindra Bharati University), Kolkata in 2018 and is presently pursuing MFA at Government College of Art and Craft (GCAC), Kolkata. He was the subject of the solo show at Nippon Gallery, Mumbai (2020). He has participated in ICAD Annual Exhibition, Kolkata (2015-2018); group show in the Institute de Chandannagar, Hoogly (2017); West Bengal State Academy, Kolkata (2018-19); KCC Art Fair (2019); GCAC Annual Exhibition (2019-2021); among others. He has won Gita Das Award, GCAC Annual Exhibition (2019) and Certificate of Merit in West Bengal State Academy Annual Exhibition (2018-19). He is the recipient of the prestigious Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin Scholarship (2020-2021). He also participated in the Open Call exhibition titled Imaginarium(2021), presented by Emami Art.
Santanu Debnath lives and works in Kolkata