Santanu Hazarika has been a visual artist for the last seven to eight years and has had multiple collaborations with artists globally. But for the first time he is doing a solo show, BLCK, curated by Bina Aziz, in Mumbai’s Gallery Art & Soul.
Talking exclusively to Moneycontrol, the artist says: “I’ve been part of various group shows and some very unconventional urban exhibitions, but I wanted to display a body of work which only represented my artistic process and expression.”
Hazarika adds: “When the pandemic hit and we were in lockdown, I got time to plan and start working on my vision. I decided to scale up, and practice with a medium with which I had lost touch for a bit. So I went back to my old tiny sketch books, started to study them and finally started to recreate them with more details on much larger canvases. It was a way of reconnecting with the old sense of freedom I had with my art - going back to my roots of using black ink and acrylic, painting in monochrome.”
The 34 acrylic-and-ink works in the show range in size from just over 1 square foot to 6 square feet; with the price set at Rs 12,000 per square foot, this works out to Rs 15,000 to Rs 5 lakh, depending on the size of the artwork.
When asked what does BLCK and this body of work mean to him, Hazarika says, the works capture “some of my most turbulent years, because most of my old sketchbooks are from my days of being clinically depressed. Those drawings invoked in me a sense of comfort. Throughout the pandemic I painted until I was confident with the outcome. I was confident enough to put forward my truest artistic expression.”
So why ‘BLCK’? we ask.
“I decided to call it ‘BLCK' because black is the primary colour I used for all the paintings. But unlike the word ‘black’ my shows’ name had morphed into an erroneous spelling with an inverted ‘C', this represented the fact that even though my inspiration was rooted in my drawings, done with black ink, from my past, my execution was done in the present which has gone through tremendous change,” Hazarika says.
Actress Shruti Haasan, his girlfriend, who is also a musician, put up a live solo performance for the opening night of the show. "We inspire each other in ways which we don't even understand fully, but it definitely fuels our artistic exploration and curiosity. We both love creating art and that is what brought us together,” says Hazarika.
How has the response to the show been, given that people are only slowly starting to venture into enclosed public places like art galleries?
"My social media has been blowing up with shares and compliments," says Hazarika. "But...the best compliment that I have got was from this 10 year old kid who loved the paintings so much that he wanted to take them home.”