AGITPROP. PARTIE TROIS. (Or How Things Evolve)

Aditi Raychoudhury. The United Faces of America. 2017. Screen print on newsprint.
Aditi Raychoudhury. The United Faces of America. 2017. Screen print on newsprint.

Adapted The United Faces of America to a single color image. Pulled some test prints on newsprint. Step #2: Experiment with hand tinting certain areas. Step #3: Print on Kraft paper.  Thank you, Compound Gallery for the Agitprop Residency Program and your astute feedback and support.

This exercise started as a multicolor image that we adapted to work for a 3-color image for screen printing to a single-color image (with some hand tinting) in the interest of time. Parameters set the tone, and it’d always fun to work with.

The United Faces of America. 2017. Image for 3-color screenprint.
The United Faces of America. 2017. Image for 3-color screenprint.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Resist. 2016. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Resist. 2016. Adobe Illustrator.

 

One for Inktober

Aditi Raychoudhury. Poster for SPICMACAY, Rajan and Sajan Misra. 1990. Pen and Ink
Aditi Raychoudhury. Poster for SPICMACAY, Rajan and Sajan Misra. 1990. Pen and Ink
Aditi Raychoudhury. Poster for SPICMACAY, Rajan and Sajan Misra. 1990. Pen and Ink

Before October is all but gone, here is one for #inktober – even though it is from 27 years ago! I had just started architecture school and quickly got involved with anything that needed an illustration. #SPICMACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth), was one such organization founded by #PadmaShri Dr. #KiranSeth. I ended up making a lot of posters for them – they all had to be exceuted quickly in black and white for quick reproduction and dissemination. Here is one I did for a musical night by #RajanMishra and #SajanMishra. Rajan and Sajan Mishra are part of a 300-year-old lineage of #khyal singing of the #Banarasgharana

Shubho Bijoya

Aditi Raychoudhury. Snagging a Mango. Watercolors and Gouche on BFK Rives. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Snagging a Mango. Watercolors and Gouche on BFK Rives. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Crazy Rickshaw Ride. Watercolors and Gouche on BFK Rives. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Crazy Rickshaw Ride. Pencil on Tracing Paper. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Crazy Rickshaw Ride. Pencil on Tracing Paper. 2017.

Maa has returned to her heavenly abode, as did mine, almost 20 years ago.

When we were little, the joy of pujo lay in waking up at the crack of dawn to Birendro Kishore Bhodro’s rendition of Mohaloya broadcast over All India Radio. It lay in the anticipation of more than a week off from school, wearing new clothes, eating bhog, and most of all meeting friends and family.

After I had moved to Delhi, pujo was a time to be with my parents, who had moved to Kolkata by then. Kolkata was a big change from the small town I had grown up in. The pandals of Raurkela were neither as creative as Kolkata, nor were they as crowded. The madness that grips Kolkata during pujo is not something anyone outside of Kolkata can understand or imagine.

This night was pujo’s biggest night – Ashtami. After offering our morning Anjali in the paaraar pandal, we decided not to venture out in the evening.

“Knock, knock, knock!!!” It was Monoronjon, our local rickshaw puller.

Those who are familiar with Kolkata, know that rickshaw pullers are our solution to getting to various modes of an otherwise efficient public transit system. Within every few blocks is a “rickshaw stand” marked only by a huddle of rickshaws. If you live in that neighborhood, you start using the same rickshaw puller to take you places, or to run errands. In our case, that man was Monoronjon.

“Ki Boudi, pujo dekhbeyn naa?” (Brother’s wife, don’t you want to go and see pujo?)
“Naa, eyi bheedeyr moddhey aar beyrotey bhaal laagey naa.” (No, its too crowded to be enjoyable)
“Sheyki??? Oshtomir din, protimaa dekhtey jaabeyn naa. Ey ki kothaa? Cholun. Aajkey keyu baadi boshey neyi. Cholteyi hobey.” (How can that be? Its Ashtami, Pujo’s big night. How can you not want to see Mother Goddess. No one stays home on Ashtami. I will take you through the backlanes. You have to come.)

And, so we did. Through the narrow back lanes of Selimpur to all the pujos in Jodhpur Park, Jadavpur park and even as far as Santoshpur. My sister and I hung on to our mother for dear life as Monoronjon expertly swerved his way through the winding streets and impenetrable crowds. A good three hours later – we were home.

“Eyyi jey, Monoronjon. Eyto ghoraaley. Koto holo?”(you took us around quite a bit. How much?)
“Sheyki baudi? Pujor din. Aami aapnedeyr ghora tey niyey gaychhi. Aapni to amaakey daakeyn ni.” (How can you even ask me that? Its pujo. I asked you to come with me. You didn’t ask me to take you.)
And with that, Monoronjon, our illiterate, dirt-poor rickshaw puller reminded us that pujo is so much more than new clothes, food or commerce. It is about sharing joy.

Agitprop – Part Deux

The United Faces of America. 2017. Image for 3-color screenprint.
The United Faces of America. 2017. Image for 3-color screenprint.
The United Faces of America. 2017. Image for 3-color screenprint.

Reduced the original image

Aditi Raychoudhury. Resist. 2016. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Resist. 2016. Adobe Illustrator.

 

for a 3-color screenprint that I will be making 100 copies of as part of the Agitprop residency sponsored by the Compound Gallery.

The Compound Gallery is funding this Residency out of its own funding to help artist create art with traditional printmaking techniques (e.g., letterpress, silkscreen, etching, relief, photopolymer plates) and building a bridge between printmaking’s historic relationship to generating social/cultural/political awareness and contemporary social media/online forums. If you want to support what they do by either donating ink, paper, supplies, or monetary funds, you can do so by clicking HERE.  They are fiscally sponsored via Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)(3) public charity. Contributions for the purposes of The Compound Gallery are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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Grateful for the Agitprop Residency at the Compound Gallery

Aditi Raychoudhury. Resist. 2016. Adobe Illustrator.

I am grateful to the Compound Gallery for offering me a spot in their Agitprop Residency program 

What is Agitprop? Its Printing for a cause. Thinking. Making. Disseminating. 1 individual, 1 month, 100 Prints.

I will be printing the United Faces of America as a 3-color screenprint over the next month.

 

Aditi Raychoudhury. Resist. 2016. Adobe Illustrator.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Resist. 2016. Adobe Illustrator.

 

 

The Compound Gallery is funding this Residency out of its own funding to help artist create art with traditional printmaking techniques (e.g., letterpress, silkscreen, etching, relief, photopolymer plates) and building a bridge between printmaking’s historic relationship to generating social/cultural/political awareness and contemporary social media/online forums. If you want to support what they do by either donating ink, paper, supplies, or monetary funds, you can do so by clicking HERE.  They are fiscally sponsored via Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)(3) public charity. Contributions for the purposes of The Compound Gallery are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Mangoes, Mangoes Everywhere, Yet Not One For Me to Eat

Aditi Raychoudhury. Snagging a Mango. Watercolors and Gouche on BFK Rives. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Snagging a Mango. Watercolors and Gouche on BFK Rives. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Snagging a Mango. Watercolors and Gouche on BFK Rives. 2017.

Summer is almost over, as are the monsoons. The mangoes are most definitely gone, but here I am, still trying to snag one from the tree in the backyard of my childhood. There is nothing more delicious than a mango in the middle of the blistering heat of an Indian June. If this national fruit of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh can’t bring us together, I don’t know what can. Happy 70th birthday to India.

Aditi Raychoudhury. Prep sketch for Snagging a Mango. Pencil on Paper. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Prep sketch for Snagging a Mango. Pencil on Paper. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Prep sketch with color for Snagging a Mango. Pencil, colored pencils on Tracing Paper. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Prep sketch with color for Snagging a Mango. Pencil, colored pencils on Tracing Paper. 2017.

 

Ban Momos? Nooooo!!!

Aditi Raychoudhury. Twilight Zone. Pen and Ink. 2004.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Twilight Zone. Pen and Ink. 2004.

Almost everyone in my architecture school adored momos. We relished it often. Not satisfied with its war on Maggi, the Indian government now wants to ban momos. If momos were so dangerous, most graduates of the School of Planning and Architecture would have been dead well before graduation day!

An Arranged Marriage, a Lifetime of Love.

Aditi Raychoudhury. My newly married parents. 2017. Watercolors.
Aditi Raychoudhury. My newly married parents. 2017. Watercolors.

It’s been a little over 4 years since my father passed away, unexpectedly. Inherent in its suddenness is also a thankfulness that his heart simply stopped working one morning. Despite the ease of his death, and that a few years have gone by since, I still recoil at the thought of someday returning to his apartment – unremarkable in every way, except by way of tininess, and emptying it of all those household items – ordinary utilitarian things made extraordinary by memories of our life together. It is that last bit of physical record of my life with them that I dread to sever, even though I know that nothing can sever my memories of them.

There is that Sunmica table which bore our childhood meals, homework, board games, and many conversations – you know, that thing which humans used to do more of when they didn’t have TVs, smart phones, and very often electricity.  Yes, many of our dinners during the sweltering summer heat were by candle light. Fancy!

The hard, narrow little beds on which my sister, brother and I whispered and giggled before dribbling off into innocent, delight-filled sleep.

The rickety study table with its giant shortwave radio whose knobs I twiddled all through my teen years to religiously tune in to Dave Lee Travis’ “A Jolly Good Show”. The very same one that my aging father also used to figure out the mysteries and workings of the laptop, the internet and a whole new world to email and Skype with us.

And, then there is that bigger bed, the one that my parents shared since their wedding day,  November, 19, 1965.

Aditi Raychoudhury. My newly married parents. It was the start of something beautiful. 2017. Pencil on Tracing Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. My newly married parents. It was the start of something beautiful. 2017. Pencil on Tracing Paper.

Even though the furniture itself is of no great value by way of either money or design, I grew up in pre-Ikea days, when we bonded with our furniture like family. And, just like those people who never want to part with their mid-century modern masterpieces, I don’t want to part with these memory-drenched pieces either. I secretly hope that one of my relatives will adopt them, so that, when I touch them, it will feel like the next best thing to physical nearness to my parents, who, despite their extremely modest means, gave us an extraordinarily rich life.

They hadn’t met till their wedding day. And, they couldn’t have been more different. Him: a man of few words, and a home body. She: An extremely social extrovert, brimming with joie de vivre. Yet, I was never witness to the usual marital skirmishes, tensions and all-out wars. While my mother made friends, had them over for meals, my father sat quietly, contentedly and joyfully observant of the evening as it unfolded, mostly around my mother.

Many summers ago, on one dark evening, as my father and I made our way through the heady smells of jasmine, mangoes, decaying garbage and an unimaginable number of sweaty humans, as was common on our tropical, slum-fringed street, my father reflected on his time with my mother.

“I see so many marriages. I see how couples fight. I never felt that way about your mother. I felt like we were two separate instruments playing in harmony”.

I later found out that this hadn’t just come from a place of sentimental recollection. As I was cleaning out the cupboard, a few days after my father had died, I found a bunch of letters.

Should I? Shouldn’t I? My curiousity triumphed over my respect for their privacy. The first one was from my father to my mother, one of his earliest to her I suppose, expressing his desire to spend a couple of years getting to know her before starting a family. How could two virtual strangers be so intimate, I wondered? It is still a mystery.

I opened another, from my mother to my father. This was one was from a much later period in their life. We were teenagers and my father had to work in a different town for extended periods of time. It was about how much she missed him, normal parental concerns, ending again with her longing for him …. and then another… and another.. and another.. till the tears and guilt blinded me to the rest. They were so private and so full of tenderness that I wished that they had been written by some famous author, so that I could guiltlessly relish them.

Its not like they didn’t have their disagreements, but their love was apparent even to my little-girl-eyes that never saw them kiss, hold hands, or make any other physical display of affection in front of us. It was simply not a part of our culture. Yet, it is the best marriage that I know of.

Ma and Baba before we came along. Ma is wearing Baba's sweater. 1965? 1966?
Ma and Baba before we came along. Ma is wearing Baba’s sweater. To hug publicly was quite the statement in their time!

It was apparent in how they looked at each other, in their little gestures of affection expressed through food, praise, and my mother’s absolute indignation when my dad would walk straight into the kitchen as soon as he got home from work to do the dishes.

It was apparent in the sarees that my father brought back every single time he came back from a work tour (even if they didn’t always meet her fashion standards), and, in the box of my mother’s favorite summer treat (raw mango sondesh) that he would routinely buy on his way back from work, during the short time that they would be in season.

It was clear to me when my mother tirelessly marched up and down the insanely crowded streets of Gariahat to find the perfect “letter stand” for his birthday. It was clear to me when I watched her giggle all afternoon as she tried to find the perfect spot for him to “accidentally” find it and burst out laughing as she imagined his surprise. “Bolish naa Baba key.” (Don’t tell your father.)

Their love was heartbreaking when my father bathed her, clothed her, fed her and helped her walk to the bathroom as the cancer slowly but greedily sucked away her strength. It was heartbreaking when one day he mumbled to God, “Please take her before the cancer takes away her dignity.” It was the day when my mother had, ashamedly, soiled her bed. Cancer had succeeded in slurping up her very last drop of energy and humanness .

He knew, from his 32 years with her, that losing her ability to always look fresh in a clean crisp saree, bindi, and a bit of gold on her wrists, ears and neck, was devouring her spirit faster than this beast of a disease could her body.

Just two days later, his wish came true. She sank into a deep delirium. I laid down next to her, stroking her still butter smooth back that always reminded me of La Grande Baigneuse , while my father stroked her hair and face and arms and wept and wept and wept and wept.

 

——

This song by Nobel Laureate Tagore does a better job of capturing their relationship than I can ever do.

তুমি রবে নীরবে
হৃদয়ে মম ॥
নিবিড় নিভৃত পূর্ণিমা
নিশীথিনী সম॥

মম জীবন যৌবন
মম অখিল ভুবন
তুমি ভরিবে গৌরবে
নিশীথিনী-সম॥

জাগিবে একাকী
তব করুণ আঁখি,
তব অঞ্চলছায়া মোরে
রহিবে ঢাকি॥

মম দুঃখবেদন
মম সফল স্বপন
তুমি ভরিবে সৌরভে
নিশীথিনী-সম॥

তুমি রবে নীরবে
হৃদয়ে মম ॥
নিবিড় নিভৃত পূর্ণিমা
নিশীথিনী সম॥

You fill my heart
With the quietude
Of an impenetrably dark and lonesome
Night of the moon.

My life, my youth,
My universe beyond universe –
You fill with the dignity
Of that dark impenetrable night

Your poignant soulful eyes
Never cease their watch on me.
In your shroud, your shadow
I stay tightly enwrapped.

My sorrows, my pains
My dreams of joy
You infuse with the delicate fragrance
Of that dark impenetrable night

You fill my heart
With the quietude
Of an impenetrably dark and lonesome
Night of the moon

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Happy Birthday to a Bandicoot (plus 1)

Left to their own devices everyday would be cake day for these two bandicoots.

Aditi Raychoudhury. Happy Cake Day. Watercolors. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Happy Cake Day. Watercolors. 2017.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Happy Cake Day. 2017. Pencil Sketch on Tracing.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Happy Cake Day. 2017. Pencil Sketch on Tracing.

Third experiment in watercolors for my husband’s 45th birthday. And, no, her hair didn’t catch fire. Its all the way down to her back now.