DI converses with Arijoy Bhattacharya on the occasion of the launch of his latest series -AghoraTech. An enchanting and captivating series inspired by blending both tantric spirituality and German Bauhaus, is an attractive collection of 23 pieces using ink on paper. The son of well-known artist Sanjay Bhattachraya, Arijoy, showcased his most recent works at the Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai.
What was your inspiration behind the series?
The inspiration in terms of form. I was basically trying to create a blend of Indian elements inspired by Rajasthani tantric paintings. And keeping this very minimal. And Bauhaus influence, which is the German aesthetic. So I was trying to blend them together because they have some correlations in terms of form. When it comes to the content, I was focusing on mainly tantric imagery. Including things which are very common, like the downward triangle and the forward triangle representing the female and the male energies. The use of circles represents either ‘punyta’ or ‘shunyata’; either fullness or the void.
In terms of colour choice, there are two aspects to it. The visual aspect is basically black, red, and white. They create a very stark contrast. So it can catch your eye from a distance.
But again, if I have to get into an esoteric level, I would say the ‘Trigunas’ – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is purity, which is white. Rajas is dynamism, which is red. And Tamas which is black depicting inertia. So it’s the play of these three ‘gunas’.
However, it wasn’t that calculated or theorized, I was just doing it in a flow.
What has been the role of your father in your journey so far?
He is been like the preceptor and the guide. He knows where to encourage me and what to not let me do too much. He is also like a direct instructor for me. He is not just an esoteric guru. Generally, when I finish a drawing, I show it to him and he will let me know the ‘gunas’ and the ‘doshas’ of the drawing as he views them. And then I incorporate what feedback I resonate with; I’m not following him blindly. Sometimes I also take my stand, you know, I’ve done it for a purpose. I’m not changing anything.
And how would you say your work is different from his?
That’s a very tricky question, actually. He has a way more established background and foundation in realism. And I started off in fantastical and mythological subjects like Mesopotamian gods and goddesses. Even our styles are different.
How has your series, AghoraTech been received so far? If you can tell us something on that.
Jehangir Art Gallery is a place where in contrast to Delhi or any other place that I’ve seen so far, the footfalls are way more than any gallery. And you get to meet people and you get to interact with people from all walks of life. So that actually, gives you a lot of inspiration and perspective to how your works, are being received. So it was a very learning experience. People connected to the works according to their levels of understanding. There were some naive questions. There were some very profound questions that were raised. And I enjoyed them both.
About the title, whats the significance of AghoraTech
Well, I chose the title as AghoraTech because I took it as an opportunity to actually let the audience know that Aghora that we know today, thanks to popular culture have perpetuated a myth, about them being practitioners of extreme heterodox practices and all that. But as they say, the rules of the cremation ground and the rules of the ‘grihasta’ or householder are very different and they keep away the wrong elements from the allure of the dark. They keep away the negative elements. Contrary to popular culture, they have been at the service of society for a very long time. I mean, modern Aghori’s they have in Varanasi for example, opened up hospitals for leprosy patients. I wanted to kind of connect to the audience to the positive side to the Aghoras, which we are not aware of.
They say, as long as you are in the cremation ground, you are using it as a laboratory for experiments. Once you’re done with it, then you are absolutely out of it. You are there for society. You are there to serve society with whatever wisdom you’ve garnered from your experiences.