Sunday, 10 January 2010

My favourite artist

Neelpawan Barua

For me, Neelda is the absolute 'top' Assamese artist, and I am putting him into my blog because I would really like him to be much better known. Also because he and Dipali Baidew are the sweetest couple I know. You cannot help loving them. Although his absolute inability to take care of his own paintings drives me nuts everytime I meet him, thinking about it later invariably makes me cry. More about all that later, first a little more to help you place Neelda ...

For those of you who know the region a little, Neelda is
(a) son of eminent Asamiya poet Binanda Chandra Baruah,
(b) a graduate of Kala Bhawan, Vishwa Bharati University in Shanti Niketan, and
(c) husband of well-known Asamiya singer of yesteryears Dipali Borthakur.

He founded the Assam Fine Arts and Craft Society, Guwahati, and still runs a Sunday morning art school for little children in his house.

Though originally from Jorhat, his present co-ordinates are: Saurabh Nagar, Beltola, Guwahati -- 781028, India.

Rather than talk about this art, his technique and his work, I'm posting a few of his paintings -- let them speak for themselves.

The one above right is called 'Lora-Roja' -- the boy-prince, the second one on the left clearly depicts the ten-headed king of Lanka 'Ravan' (Curtesy: Helena Pihko) and the one below is titled simply 'Three Birds'. All three are done in 'mixed media', and have a special 3-D effect. He also paints on canvas and believe it or not, on newspaper, matchboxes, what have you... Do let me know if you would like to see a few more of his paintings.

Now back to what I had started to tell you: Neelda and Dipali Baidew are both lovely people. They are also very well-known and much admired in Assam. So much so, that between them they have probably won every possible award that they could have possibly won in Assam. But that is not even half the story...

But let that be... I want you to judge Neelda on his merits, and give him his due. So, if you happen to like his work, have some space on your wall, and some money to spare, then do please pamper yourself and gift yourself one of his creations. Your best chance would be to visit him when you are in Guwahati next -- I would strongly recommend a visit to his beautiful ashram-like home in any case, I can assure you you will come away with more than you had gone in with.

But let me warn you, it will not be easy to get a painting from him -- first he will tell you that he has no paintings at all (don't believe him, he is plainly trying to fend you off), and if you did manage to get to the point when you have coaxed him to show you a few, he will refuse to quote a price for any. But please don't give up -- he usually gives in once he is convinced that you will take good care of his 'daughter' (Hope you begin to see now why he can be so difficult :-)

Finally, and please treat this as an absolute last option, if you want me to intervene at any point, especially if your chances of being able to visit him in Guwahati are not very high, then let me know. I go home to Assam at least once every year and will be happy to help in whatever way I can.

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