Memory Keeper’s Archive

Nikita Puri

Be it a recollection of gigantic shadows of trees swaying over water at sundown, or the image of a palatial building eroded into oblivion, Tanmoy Samanta is a keeper of memories. And through an exhibition titled "All I have learned and forgotten" at Gallery Espace, the Delhi-based artist offers a corridor of memories.

Opulent with visual poetry and magical realism, Samanta showcases his paintings alongside 3D installations, giving a place of honour to recycled books, old timepieces, and even keys which open locks that have long been lost or forgotten. His fascination for maps shines through in The Cartographer's Paradox, which is crafted out of a recycled book, paperboard and gouache on rice paper. "I've taken maps, and presented them in a topsy-turvy manner. This is my way of questioning the validity of political boundaries," says the artist, who was inspired by John Lenon's Imagine for this piece. While with this installation Samanta reimagines the supercontinent that Pangaea once was, in Shadow Palace, he makes the most of positive and negative space in a recycled book. "The protagonist in this creation is a palace, which is symbolic of any building that has a commanding or an intimating effect. I want to show how a colossal structure can disappear yet stay alive in the recesses of one's mind, that something of power can be left behind just as a shadow without a body," says Samanta.

The 40-year-old artist who trained at Shantiniketan in West Bengal uses rice paper and gouache as his canvas. His colours are toned down and muted, which he says stems from his nature. "I'm known to be an introvert, and the colours I use reflect that. I start out with brighter and darker ones, but consciously mellow them down to subdue the cacophony of hues. There are multiple layers of colours under the visible ones. I use wash colours to get the fluidity of watercolours, and the opaqueness of other paints," says the self-confessed fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Franz Kafka. Watch dials which no longer work come together in The Time Hive, a place in Samanta's mind where time becomes static, caught in a universe where the needles no longer move.

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