Collage is one of the creative processes of art-making for an artistic self-expression. It is a technique of comprising a work of art by pasting various materials, which may or may not be related with one another, as newspaper clippings, photographs- full, torn, or just a part, theatre tickets, railway tickets, paints, colourful handmade paper and even an envelope, a letter or pages of a book. Collage became a distinctive section of Modern art in the early twentieth century when George Braque coined the term as ‘Papier Colle’. It was Braque who used pieces of oak-grain wallpaper with his charcoal drawings. Picasso took it to another level where he stuck oil cloth with a chair cane over his canvas. Kurt Schwitters explored wood collages and Richard Hamilt turned to Photomontage. Assemblage is a sculptural technique of organizing or composing into a unified whole a group of unrelated and often fragmentary or discarded objects.

What an artist reflects in his artwork, are his own thoughts, ideas and emotions as a reaction to his surroundings, any particular event or his clear or ambiguous thought process. Anything can appeal to his mind and he can reach out and identify with it. In the online exhibition organized by Shankar Art Foundation, named ‘Artists’ Collage during Lockdown’, one can see myriad expressions by artists. One can see current scenario of chaos during Covid-19 with masked man; spread of the pandemic through newspaper headlines; an urban dream with bloom in nature; an artist’s diary reflecting the memories; holy places; loneliness with selfie-clicks and shifting realities where the elements caught by the mind’s eye are sifted through intellectual sieve. Gold award winners of the contest are Alka Chadha Harpalani, Kanu Priya, Sourav Das; Silver Award have been given to Ishwar Chand Gupta, Jasmine Maggo, Kishor Mistry, Meenakshi Vijay and Shagufta; Bronze award was bagged by Monika Grover, Naga Varshini M, Neerja Chandna Peters, Riya, Somil Sharma, Susnata Chatterjee. Besides this, artists were given commendable and merit certificates too. The exhibition can be seen on the portal of ArtInfoIndia.com.

Alka Chadha Harpalani’s Collage-‘Shifting realities’ is a picture of stimulating ideas, enriched with her personal symbols like torn paper, letters, mixed media and calligraphic background. It is like a moving mirror reflecting its shifting reality by imbibing the impressions from myriad sources. There is a search for creative directions from within and without, by collecting ideas and materials, and exploiting them to the full to express her feelings. An effort can be seen to go beyond existing. There is an assembly of cuttings – found, invented, readymade and even texts to combine and be re-conceptualized. Collage of the photos of her own paintings is adding a new dimension when put together with a stencil-cut butterfly, a tag from air flight and postal stamps from a letter. All the elements are involved in a dialogic relationship, whether related or unrelated, forming their own context. One can see the condensation of sensations imprinted in a pictorial diary. Each page reflects similar or varied thought and stimulates the imagination further.

Kanu Priya  Kanu Priya’s artistic practice focuses on the elements narrating the present scenario, usually ignored or unseen chapters from gone history depicting. Her work-‘Nature is important’ represents the reminiscence of time investigating the simplicity yet complexity of craggy bits and pieces that create visually vigorous hybrids. It has elements of miniature paintings, texture and contrast. She experiments with torn sheets, strings, threads, cloth or cardboard wastes, objects directly from nature and few pigments in a mixed media where forms and textures enigmatically related to each other are sewed to the surface in mellifluous way. Torn and patchily stitched piece of work represents tattered characteristics of forms and formless. On can see a jungle of concrete houses and drainage system, where nature is totally absent. On the other hand, lush foliage, blossomed tress and fauna, beautiful clouds, rain, river and fish which are enjoying the absence of human in pandemic times. Nature is alive and revived.

Sourav Das Raniganj’s collage of ‘Einstein’ and a duck is a direct depiction made out of newspaper clippings, bits of coloured and hand-made papers, extracts of other artwork, photographs and cuttings from different magazines.

Uma Sharma Ghat Mathura has been working on collages since years. She has named her collage-‘No brush no paint’. She has always been fascinated by ghats situated on the banks of river Yamuna and the portraits of the working ladies. These intricately pasted torn papers are even more fascinating as they give an impression of impasto. The beauty lies in trying to capture even the minute details as bird bath, pitchers, people in perspective on ghats, layers by layers building up of trees, brick walls and even the railings.

In these pandemic times, where the whole world is confused, scared and uncertain of what tomorrow hold, art is helping them in venting out the compressed feelings and  keeping them sane. Ishwar Chand Gupta’s collage reflects the inner conflicts playing the trick with a human mind. There is a reflection of peaceful colours, holding the purity and softness of a lotus and child, embodying the warriors like doctors, nurses and the police who are helping in protecting the Nation.

Shagufta’s and Riya’s collage also is also on the same theme of saluting and being supportive to the Corona warriors and ease the path to fight this pandemic. Susnata Chatterjee has used sand paper with newspaper cutting on the Corona articles, along with black and red acrylic colours, to give the shape of portraits of suffering people and the deadly effects of corona

Jasmine Maggo’s Collage-‘Let’s go back to nature’ is a call for everyone to go and find nature in the bitter reality where the air and water are becoming more and more polluted, rivers are drying up, forests are being destroyed and new diseases are spreading their wings. One needs to realize that there is a rhythm to everything —the wind, the rain, the waves, the flow of breathe and even a heartbeat. Forgetting the Nature, one will cease to exist.

Kishor Mistry’s collage has been manifested on canvas with use of different pictures. It is a gesture to nurture one’s memories and show one’s love and respect to personality reflected.

Meenakshi V’s ‘Urban Dream’ is a call for everyone to actively protect the environment, to find one’s inner peace. Urbanization is often characterized by fast paced living, concrete jungles, roads, bright lights, and people travelling, all usually in pursuit of materialistic goals.  One needs to find the calmness in the chaos; and dream about being free like a bird, away from the deadlines, or forever be trapped in the concrete jungle, with the dreams silenced by the routine of urban life.

Neerja Chandna Peters through her collages have tried to document the timeline of onset and progression of the pandemic in March 2020. There is an observation of birds flying free and light in her garden, while humans under the burden of this atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, locked down unlike the birds. “Watching these winged friends somehow soothes me. Their chirping brings joy and disconnects me from the current situation. While the newspapers are full of all sorts of headlines, highlighting the threat and fear that the pandemic brings, the birds keep twittering around to draw the attention to simple pleasures of life. And then I wonder how Nature is always giving and healing, no matter what mankind does to exploit it.”

Somil Sharma has made the highly revered Golden Temple/ Sri Harmandir Sahib of Amritsar in his collage-‘The Heritage of Punjab’ to keep the spirituality and divinity alive in the hearts of people in the difficult times. In spite of the thousands of people milling about in the premises, the only voice one hears is the silence interspersed with chants of the Sikh prayers.

Alka Chadha Harpalani

About Alka Chadha Harpalani