Samir Mondal – an Indian watercolour painter.

His most amazing contribution to Indian art of modern times is a continual revival of watercolour.


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Samir Mondal

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Born in Balti, a small village in North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal, Mondal graduated in fine arts from the Government College of Art & Craft, Kolkata in 1975. Thereafter he went to Germany for higher studies.

He married Madhumita in 1980, whom he had met in Kolkata while still in college. After marriage the couple briefly shifted to Bangalore, before settling in Bombay (now Mumbai), they have two children, Somak and Sohini. He lives and works in Goregaon West, Mumbai.

Mondal started his solo career in 1980, and after a brief stay in Bangalore, settled in Bombay (now Mumbai). Here by 1987, he was illustrating political cartoons in water colour for noted magazine Illustrated Weekly of India.

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Over the past four decades he has exhibited in India and abroad. Besides this he has also participated in noted group exhibitions like National Art exhibition of Lalit Kala Akademi(Delhi), ‘Freedom of Expression’ and ‘Tribute to Mother Teresa’ by RPG Enterprises, 100 Years of Indian Cinema, People for Animals, ‘Art with a Heart’ at National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, ‘Celebrations-97’ at Napa Art Gallery, Nepal, ‘Confluence’ at Art Connoisseur Gallery, London and Gallery Asiana, New York in collaboration with Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore.

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For the 2007 Hindi film, Taare Zameen Par, he painted two watercolour paintings which characters Ishaan and Nikumbh, played by Darsheel Safary and Aamir Khan respectively, made during film climax. In March 2012, to mark his 60th birthday, he held an exhibition titled “6×10” of his 60 paintings of flowers, at the Jamaat Art Gallery in Colaba, Mumbai.

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Awards

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I have tried to play and experiment with colours from the very beginning. Watercolour fascinates me with its versatility, from extremely soft transparency when mixed with water and applied in gentle strokes to extremely bold applications of raw colour from the tubes. I love using pure, undiluted colours in my works and I hope my works reflect a fresh and vibrant use of colour. I believe in letting my work guide me and accept the composition and colours that it demands or dictates. As mentioned earlier, I am a great fan of Fauve works by Henri Matisse, who proved that it doesn’t matter what colour is used where, it may be absurd yet poetic at the same time.

THE USE OF BLACK AND WHITE
Academically we were taught never to touch the black and white tubes of watercolour while practicing in this medium. In fact we were asked to throw away these tubes when we bought a new set. The impression then was that black was a dirty colour, which made the transparent medium dirty, while white mixed with other colours made them duller and added opacity. In my quest to diverge from the traditional school of watercolours and to experiment, I discovered that application of black gave my works weight and strength. Use of black as black enhances the contrasts and brings out a different dimension of other darker shades like crimson, ultramarine, viridian green etc. While the opacity created by adding white, if placed properly, help in enhancing the transparency of the surrounding colours.

PAPERS

Most of my career I used handmade Indian paper. Later, I experimented with Saunders and Whatman watercolour papers, which I love. Now I use Arches cold press and rough 300gsm watercolour paper.

COLOURS
I prefer to use Camlin (Indian) and Windsor and Newton Watercolours. Sometimes I experiment with other brands. I like Chinese black sticks for black and white drawings. My palette is never fixed. I start randomly from lighter tones, from middle tones or directly with dark tones. I consider myself conservative in regard to the techniques used. The white is the white of the paper and I don’t use any chemicals for special effects, no masking fluid etc. Everything is painted with just a brush, paint and water.

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www.samirmondal.com


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