Recent work by Jayashree Chakravarty
24th June – 16th July, 2016
Akar Prakar, Kolkata


Over the period Jayashree’s world of visual imageries and the visual constructions have transcended the mere sense of loss and successfully created a compelling vision that recalls back the entomological and the vegetal world and their silent suppressed claims to the ecosphere which has been completely encroached in the wake of the historical and civilizational developments of mankind. For Jayashree Chakravarty, imminent ecological issues claim a tangible presence in her art works, evoking the touch, smell and taste of all that is raw, organic and therefore natural – as opposed to the synthetically fabricated self-styled notion of human habitat.

Unwavering concern with ecological issues and deep emotional/personal engagement with the natural land and all its natural habitats have been a liberating experience for Jayashree Chakravarty underlying the pain and sense of loss. Right from the beginning of her career she has circumvented any blatant modernist rhetoric and moved on to build up a faith in the evolutionary potential of contemporary art that celebrates the sensory along with the representational. Her earlier multi-layered works – both conceptually and physically –almost anticipated her archaeological propensity of un-layering and unearthing the history of a land in terms of its organic life and predicament. With a remarkable urgency she unearths the history of devastation and rampant destruction of nature by the human greed impersonated as necessity and in the process she soils her own hands too.

Jayashree thus painstakingly weaves a visual language of expression, in the form of painting or three-dimensional paper-installations using organic elements like leaves, weeds and other plant remains, treating the surface as the porous soil that holds life and its primordial dream in its fold. She scavenges botanic specimens, draws the insects that are lost but not extinct, discovers the cartographies of the terrain where she lives and excavates the forgotten story of the land. Jayashree often seems to work like an archeologist who refuses to uphold the civilizational pride without questioning its consequences. In her recent set of works working in the manner of an urban archeologist, Chakravarty exhumes the lost histories of Kolkata and remaps the transformations in her neighborhood Salt Lake, a reclaimed marshland—conveying the dynamic relations between Nature and Culture. Within the context of contemporary Indian art and the larger global concerns Jayashree Chakravarty remains an exceptional artist to reflect upon an apocalyptic social world by evoking various facets of environmental sustainability, ecofeminism and personal memory.

Born and brought up in Tripura, north-east India, amidst a vibrant natural milieu, Jayashree studied painting from a wide range of art education institutions including Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan and M. S. University, Baroda. Later she was an artist in residence at the Ecole d´ Art in Aix-en-Provence, France, between 1994 and 1995. Her experiences of living in different kinds of cultural and natural locales have informed and enriched her art with an organicity that cuts across the figurative/abstraction binary and explores all the given possibilities of transmutations of a visual expedition. Her style never conforms to a pre-conceived language but keeps reinventing itself like an explorer in search of the buried roots of the organic world addressing the eco-sustainability of the human habitat. With an apparent effortlessness along with meticulous labor Jayashree’s way of working can be seen as transmigrating from one phase to other, making her art more cerebral over the years, incorporating new ideas and modes of expression mostly traced from her journey through the life and her unsettling feelings about the human comfort. She is one of those rare artists who dare to break the mold and evolve constantly.

Her engagement with organic and hand-made forms that interweave aspects of plant ecology, animal life and urban habitat also carry a tune, a seductive song that entices the viewers not only to see but touch her works. This inaudible song emerges from what García Lorca called el duende, the spirit from the earth itself that charges art with power.

When the author Jay Griffiths was once asked how to stay in touch with the force of nature, she replied, ‘Through language, through sensuality, through instinct, through all that is vivid, all that has spirit, everything through which life lives most ferociously and most sweetly.’ Jayashree Chakravarty’s works echo this spirit most vividly and inescapably. She voices her concerns for us but not on behalf of us. She looks at our world from the same perspectives as it is looked at and perhaps lamented by the insects, birds and brushwood and scrubs. She is an artist who truly belongs to the porous soil.

Prof. Soumik Nandy Majumdar