BLACK GRAVE 2 Coal dust, brick dust, charcoal, acrylic, pen and ink on canvas (set of 7) 96” x 336” | 2019 | WEST BENGAL
This year, the winner of the highly anticipated CIMA Awards, presented by the Centre of International Modern Art (CIMA) in collaboration with the Art and Heritage Foundation, is artist Suman Chandra. His award-winning artwork, titled Black Grave 2, magnanimous in its size at 96” x 336”, depicts the man-made landscape of coal mines. We’re in conversation with the artist below to know more about him and his inspiration behind the artwork.
Could you tells us a bit about your artistic journey?
I am from West Bengal, from a very remote village. I started painting back when I was still in school. After school I came to Shantiniketan and I completed my Bachelors and Masters in Painting. Near my home, there is an abundance of nature and water resources. So nature became a strong point in my artworks.
How would you define your artistic sensibility?
I had read somewhere, when I was still a kid, that art is a mirror of society. Art reflects society. So I believe that art has a responsibility for representing society. Which is why I define my artistic personality as someone who is a responsible citizen of the society and wants to depict it as much as possible. There are very few people who know about the landscape I am working on — the coal mines. The daily lives of the people in this landscape, the social politics, et cetera.
Could you give us some insight into your inspiration behind the CIMA Awards-winning artwork — Black Grave 2?
I was always interested in the black material of coal, and when I had begun my Masters in 2015, I decided that I wanted to research more about where this material comes from. So I visited the coal mines near Jharkhand border. In the past six-and-a-half-years, I’ve visited about fifteen coal mines. This was the main inspiration behind the work. I wanted to depict this man-made landscape of coal mines, as opposed to the natural landscapes. I’ve used coal dust and the mud dust from the landscape. The graphic quality of the work is inspired from the blueprints that are made and used by the government for creating these mines, and thus the landscape.
How has the whole experience and journey with CIMA Awards been like?
CIMA Awards is a very big platform for young artists. I actually create very large works around these landscapes. I believe the bigger the work depicting the landscape, the more impact it will have on the viewer. CIMA Awards, uniquely, afforded me the space to showcase such a large piece of artwork. I am very honoured to have won the award and to have this platform to exhibit my work.
Lastly, what are you working on next?
I am working on my upcoming solo exhibition with CIMA. I am also planning to compile an archive of all the field work I have done regarding the landscape of the coal mines.
Text Nidhi Verma