‘Potchitro Kotha’ : A Solo Exhibition by Shambhu Acharya

by Tehreen Islam

‘Potchitra’ or scroll painting has been practiced in the Bengal region since the 12th century. Often executed traditionally by families who specialized in this art form where the pictures depicted scenes from cultural myths and religious events, rural bards and story tellers used the scrolls to preach and spread the myths and stories associated with religion. Artist Shambhu Acharya is the ninth generation of the family of practitioners of this art form, the first being Ramlochon Acharya.

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An exhibition by artist Shambhu Acharya was opened with an inauguration ceremony on the July 8 at 6.00 pm at EMK centre in Dhanmondi. Ambassador (rtd.) Muhammad Zamir, President, Bangladesh Folklore Research centre graced as chief guest along with other distinguished guests from art world, US Embassy and EMK centre.

The event started with brief speeches from Chargé d’Affaires Andrea Brouillette-Rodriguez, art collector Durjoy Rahman, Artist Shambhu Acharya and the chief guest Ambassador (rtd.) Muhammad Zamir. They all praised the uniqueness of Bangladeshi art and culture. The chief guest briefly discussed ideas and ways to preserve and promote the amazing art works that our artists produce.

The exhibition showcased more than 25 art pieces. Traditionally, the composition of Potchitras consists of placing the main character in the centre of the composition, with the supporting characters placed in geometrics enclosures around the perimeters. The executions are simplistic and two-dimensional. The themes of Shambhu’s paintings included of Ramayan, Sree Krisna, Gazir Pat, Mahabharata, Manusha Mangal, Muharram, Rass leela and also various other themes from the local folk culture. The amazing thing about  his paintings were that they were created  using only local and natural materials like tamarind seeds, powder of brick, chalk, vermillion, egg yolk, and various kinds of earth colour such as gopi mati, tilok mati, dheu mati, ela mati etc.

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The artist learnt his skills from his father and is currently training his children too. Being from a village from the south of the country, his paintings are a reflection of rural life. A torchbearer of a family tradition of 450 years of doing scroll paintings, Shambhu Acharya says, ‘This is family tradition for me. I learnt it from my father. For the last few generations, my family has been doing patachitra in the traditional way and our art works are being displayed in different places which is a great honour for me’.  Shambhu has applied the traditional scroll painting styles to paint the characters. Sharp edges, bold lines and bright-heavy colours can be seen in the paintings. The subjects include women doing their household chores or gossiping, men working on fields or in river or women milking cows etc which are depicted by Shambhu in most of his displayed works at the exhibition. A number of work on diverse subjects are being displayed at the exhibition.

The exhibition will continue from July 8 to July 20 at EMK centre from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Saturday to Thursday.

(Except Fridays and other public holidays).

 

Address:

Edward M. Kennedy Center for Public Service and The Arts.

9th Floor, Midas Center, No. 5, Road 16 (old 27), Dhanmondi, Dhaka.

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