Somenath Hore in focus
Afew days ago I was handed two copies of Depart by its editor, which included the current issue and a previous one. The fact that it is in English and is priced in the vicinity of Tk 400, an amount not too steep for such a magazine, simply prohibits many from going for it – as, I feel, very few in Bangladesh is in the habit of reading art magazines, let alone pay for it. Therefore, it fails to reach a large readership interested in art. I myself as a reader fall into the category of people who are unable to pay for such a publication.
I write here in relation to an article on Somenath Hore showcased in the 10th issue of Depart. The article goes by the title, 'The Poetics of Political Art: Somenath Hore in Retrospect,' and is co-written by Shakhawat Tipu and Depart Desk. As I went through the piece, it made me feel as if the entire effort is the result of a desultory gaze. It seems as if the writers havn't paid much attention to the background – the genealogy of Somenath's antagonistic form of art practice, and the political belief as well as the lifestyle through which the individual and the artist Somenath makes his appearance. It reads as if it is just another article in just another publication.
However, I am unable to throw light on the nature of the textual contents accompanying the publications produced to mark the exhibition. I cannot tell whether they were extensive in scope or not. Still, I would like to emphasize that the editor is responsible for the decision to publish it on the merit of the significance of the write-up.
Therefore, I would implore the editor to consider a special issue on Somenath Hore – where the entire gamut of the man and his creation will enjoy an extensive analytical treatment. It is important that the artistic practices in the subcontinent are delineated with a clear focus on the shifts that occurred in the history of modern art. The change from theme-based, realistic practices to the exteriorization of sensibility and substance must be given consideration to ensure that today's generation as well as the one following is adequately addressed.
In the end, I would like to emphasize the fact that in the final stage of my study, when I was poised to produce a dissertation entitled, 'Print Making: Safiuddin Ahmed,' I met Somenath Hore as part of my research proceedings, who was a direct student of Safiuddin Ahmed at Kolkata art college. As I met with him in his house next to Kolabhaban in Santiniketan, I also had the opportunity to talk to him about his teacher. About his favourite and revered teacher and artist, he had this to say: 'Although we were almost of the same age, whatever I had learned during my years in the college, it was from the master mashai – Shafiuddin Ahmed, he is my teacher.'
Last year, the preeminent artist and art teacher of this subcontinent K G Subramanyan, on a visit to Bangladesh, was given a reception at Dhaka Art Center, and, in one of the sessions there was a screening of a documentary on our revered Mani da, where he mentioned Somenath Hore with due respect.
All the best to this art magazine.
Thank you Ashok Biswas to draw our attention to the inadequacy of the write-up on Somenath Hore, as, I agree, it fails to address certain historical aspect fundamental to his development as an etcher. Depart is in full agreement that an artist of his stature deserves an elaborate treatment fuelled by well-rounded research, while the said article, which is written on the occasion of the exhibition at Bengal Gallery, fails to explore the entire gamut of his personality.
However, in lieu of your suggestion I would like to point out that at Depart, extensive showcasing of an individual artist will only convert into three or four articles on and around the artist. We have already demonstrated this with our second issue, which was on SM Sultan.
Our choise of subject matter too revolves around the discursivity we want to ianugurate; as such an individual talent is always seen in relation to a trajectory, or a history he or she has been part of. Our aim is to produce contextual reading, as nuanced as possible. Instead of going by the icons Depart would like to go by thematics – one such thematics is art and resistance, which we would like to cover in the future, where Somenath will be a central presence.