They say that Mumbai isn't simply a place; it's a feeling. Artist Arpan Bhowmik's latest solo art showcase is definite proof of this. Titled Memories In Monochrome, his work is currently exhibiting at Mumbai's Jehangir Art Gallery until April 24, 2023. A walk through the gallery was enough to put his adoration for retro cityscapes, strong pops of colour and minute detailing on display. In conversation with NDTV Swirlster, Arpan Bhowmik shared his excitement for the art show and his journey through the decades in the art world.
There's a sense of connection that binds each piece displayed at Bhowmik's current showcase. While it encompasses cityscapes and automobiles, it isn't of the present day gleaming towers and glitzy sedans. Arpan pays homage to architecture of the yesteryears in shades of black, white and grey to convey his nostalgia and yearning for the time period. The 50s and 60s, Arpan says, were what he aimed to capture through his work and in all of Mumbai, CSMT terminus (then Victoria Terminus) is his favourite landscape in the city. The famous red BEST bus also makes an appearance in his paintings and the bright colouring used specifically on all of the automobiles is meant to bring them to focus, he says.
Arpan's artistic journey may have led him to Mumbai but his story started in Kolkata. Born and raised in the city, he studied in Calcutta University's Government College Of Art. Throughout his journey, awards and accolades have been bestowed on the artist for his immense talent. These include the Governor's Award in Annual Exhibition of Govt. College of Art and Craft in Calcutta for the best water colour in 1998 as well as the gold medalist for the Governor's Award and Academy Award in All India Annual Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts in Calcutta for the best exhibition in 1999.
Arpan's watercolour work in realism spans decades and in his series based on Kolkata, the yellow taxi cabs and trams are a striking sight that no one can miss. He says that Esplanade in the central area of the city is the most appealing architecture to paint in all of Kolkata. In fact, just a look at his work is enough to understand why he is so highly praised.
Arpan's style is uncomplicated, straightforward and stunning. The realism is prevalent throughout and even in primarily shades of black, white and grey, the scenes almost look true to life. Automobiles are highlighted as a reminder of what vehicles used to look like to carry passengers through the hustle and bustle of their lives. It's enough to sense his love and longing for a time gone and if you'd like a glimpse into the cities of Mumbai and Kolkata during the past century, here's a show you shouldn't miss.