He gets up in the morning feeling hungry, goes to his studio, picks up his brush and starts painting geometric abstract shapes. Hours later, he is still at it, feeling hungry still. He has smoked a few cigarettes, drank a few cups of tea, but the hunger persists. He gets up, mobile in hand and heads out. His eyes are looking for abstract patterns, a play of light and shadows on mundane things around him. He sees an image, clicks it with his smartphone, feeds on it. It tastes good, he looks pleased but the hunger prevails still. He comes back, paints a bit more, feeling hungrier still he puts pen to paper, scribbles a bit, a poem begins to take shape. Soon he completes it, reads it again, it feels good but the hunger has not diminished. Finally, he goes back to his bed dreaming of things he will feed on tomorrow, then he goes to sleep, still hungry.
“I don't see this as creativity but hunger,” says Artist Sanjay Bhattacharya. It is this hunger that keeps him going. Through the years he has expressed himself in different forms and through different mediums. This hunger to create pushes him even today, making him restless, and giving him happiness in return.
Sanjay says, "A man has two options in life. Either to travel from one point to another without looking left or right or to soak everything on the way. The latter can make your life difficult but more enriching too." Sanjay's later edition in art is an insatiable hunger to express himself, explore and create.
Decades ago, he was sketching in the streets of Calcutta. A shopkeeper sees his sketch and offers to buy it for a rupee. Sanjay thinks about it. Till that time he created art just for himself. That day his world changed. He sold his first sketch for rupee one. Over the years, he has created art for the market very successfully. But today things have changed. Says he, “Now I am in my early sixties. I realise that now I have limited time. That is why today I create essentially for myself and according to my own whims and fancies."
Having gone through the rigours of the life of a student artist at Government College of Arts and Crafts, Kolkata, Sanjay spent years perfecting his skill. “When I was expected to paint 50 watercolours by my teacher, I used to paint up to 250. When I came to Delhi from Kolkatta and got a job as an art teacher, my father sold around 11 kgs of my sketches and watercolours I did during my years in Kolkatta, to a junk dealer. I was almost heartbroken but could not do anything about it and decided to move on.”
Over the years, Sanjay has been trying to find new expressions for the artist in him. He started with realistic watercolours, then moved to make landscapes in oils and then did a famous series of portraits of political leaders. In between, he also did a much-appreciated series inspired by the art of Salvador Dali and Rembrandt. Then he found a love for the camera.
An avid traveller, he shot extensively during his travels. A trip to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan and Ladakh, was truly inspirational in this regard. He has already showcased his pictures in an earlier show. His next show is also about the pictures he has taken. These come from his neighbourhood and random places. Basically anywhere he comes across an abstract composition and textures in the world he moves about. Patterns and textures on walls, a rusting tin sheet, a play of light and shadows on textured walls, tapped seat of an abandoned car, and the likes.
A new exhibition of his photographs will be displayed at Bikaner House, New Delhi starting September 8, 2022, “I take pictures for my inner peace and will continue to do so, ” says he.
Sanjay is also currently working on a new series of abstract paintings. These are works with geometric shapes. “These paintings do not have a preconceived layout. The blank space in the canvass tells me what it needs. I just follow my instincts. I have used such geometric shapes as the background of my Rambradt and Dali series. In this new series which I plan to display in September 2023 at IHC, these geometric shapes have come to the fore.”
Having said that he goes back to a recent poem he has written. “Earlier I used to write in Bangla but then I realized that way I will only have a limited audience. So now I write in Hindi,” says he. Then he goes on to read out his poem. He does it with a lot of passion and looks totally absorbed in the act of it. He seems to be enjoying it thoroughly. But only till the time he gets hungry, again.