Narayan Mondal: Wounded Silence of Abstraction



Born in 1964 in Kolkata and now based in New Delhi, Narayan Mondal completed both his BVA and MVA from Rabindra Bharati University, Jora Sanko Campus, in Kolkata. Known for his abstract works, he has held several solo shows, including at Lalit Kala Akademi (2019), New Delhi, Chitra Kala Parishad, Bengaluru (2008), and Vision Centre Art Gallery, Delhi (1997). Narayan has also participated in many group shows in India and abroad, including the International Art Exposition in Bangladesh 2016, the 62nd National Exhibition in Delhi, and the All India Auction organized by the Bombay Natural Gas History Society in 2008 and 2009.





1. When did you decide and what prompted you to become an artist? Please give a brief account of your challenges and struggles in your journey as an artist. Any role models?


NM: When I was in school, I never thought that I will become a part of the art world in the future. My father had beautiful handwriting, drew many things using different kinds of pens that were made by cutting bamboo, which I watched with great interest in my childhood. While in school, one of my teachers took me to the art teacher. I’m fortunate that I found an art teacher who tuned me perfectly to enable me gain admission to an art college. He was a great human being, and I learned many things from him along the way besides learning to draw.


I passed out from Art College in Kolkata, ‘the city of joy’; being there is like going on a pilgrimage in art and culture. Kolkata has its own identity and a rich heritage of art, music, polity, spirituality, and so on. The city has been a major influence in my early creative process.


Since I belonged to a middle-class family, to pursue a career in art, I’ve had to go through a lot of struggle and face many challenges.


2. What art project(s) are you working on currently? What is your inspiration or motivation for this?


NM: I have been working on a series that uses essential materials which are used or needed for human life, like gunny sack, bandage, thread, resin, plastic corrugated sheet, rice paper, denim cloth, paper clips, and so on. Jute fabric has a certain heaviness and tactile quality with intricate textures of tightly woven, moving thread, both literally and figuratively. On the flip side, I have used silky translucent and rice paper to enhance the transparency that I wanted. Bandages speak of the wounds inside us, while resin talks of the arduous lifelessness of our daily routine. I’ve always tried to express grief and pain through these materials. I have explored and symbolized them in various ways – both traditional or and non-traditional – in my current expressions. Nature and social surroundings, both animate and inanimate, coupled with the mechanical, machine-like daily chores inspired me to explore these materials for my canvas.


Silent Images, 35 inches x 17.5 inches, Rice paper, cloth,

plastic corrugated sheet, thread, James clip, bandage, resin


Silent Images, 35 inches x 17.5 inches, Rice paper, cloth, plastic corrugated sheet,

thread, James clip, bandage, resin, areca leaf round bowl


Silent Images, 12 inches x 17.5 inches, Rice paper, cloth, resin,

plastic net, egg crate, hard board, paper pulp


Silent Images, 17.5 inches x 24 inches, Jute, rice paper, razor, thread, paper pulp, James clip


Silent Images, 17.5 inches x 24 inches, Jute, thread, rice paper, bandage, jeans cloth (denim)


Silent Images, 17.5 inches x 35 inches, Jute, thread, rice paper, bandage, jeans cloth (denim)


Silent Images, 24 inches x 24 inches, Jute, thread, rice paper, bandage, denim cloth


Silent Images, 24 inches x 24 inches, Jute, thread, rice paper, bandage, denim cloth


Silent Images, 24 inches x 24 inches, Jute, thread, rice paper, bandage, denim cloth


Silent Images, 17.5 inches x 12 inches, Jute, thread, rice paper, bandage, denim cloth


Silent Images, 17.5 inches x 12 inches, Jute, thread, rice paper, bandage, denim cloth


Silent Images, 24 inches x 12 inches, Jute, thread, rice paper, bandage, jeans cloth (denim)


Silent Images, 35 inches x 12 inches, Jute, thread, rice paper, bandage, denim cloth


Silent Images, 14 inches x 14 inches, Jute, thread, rice paper, plastic corrugated sheet, bandage


3. Contemporary art has become very diverse and multidisciplinary in the last few decades. Do you welcome this trend? Is this trend part of your art practice?


NM: Yes of course I welcome the trend. It’s but normal that new things will always come and art will improve through the new. Here is a poem I remember:

The king comes and goes, Changing the day, Changing the outfit, Only changing the colour of musk.

To explore new possibilities is a natural development. I have been doing this and expressing myself through my art. We are going through a terrible upheaval and are faced with a serious socio-economic and political crisis. Everything has changed radically, both politically and in terms of social behaviour. It is most important for an artist to work peacefully in such an environment. The effect of all this is bound to reflect in the art. I have tried to explore my emotions, feelings, dreams, through my visualization. I visualize. Agony and ecstasy go side by side.


4. Does art have a social purpose or is it more about self-expression?


NM: We are social beings. Art cannot be excluded from society, nor can you separate society from art. In that sense art and social purpose are related, but making art is always the artist’s own expression.

Silent Images, 35 inches x 47 inches, Acrylic on canvas


Silent Images, 17.5 inches x 17.5 inches, Acrylic on canvas


Silent Images, 17.5 inches x 17.5 inches, Acrylic on canvas


Silent Images, 35 inches x 47 inches, Acrylic on canvas


Silent Images, 17.5 inches x 17.5 inches, Acrylic on canvas


5. Where do you create your art (workplace / studio)? What is your process?


NM: My place of creation is in my small room. I have no studio in that sense. I sketch before I do any work; thereafter, I study that subject and also try to search for all the other useful things relevant for my work. I then explore my compositions again and again in different ways. When I see or think that the composition is synchronous, harmonious and appropriate to what I want, my work automatically comes to a completion.