Capturing the essence of Indian history and antiquity through art

- January 25, 2024
| By : Ahona Sengupta |

From murals to intricate monochrome drawings, Nanadan Purkayastha's artistic journey transcends cities, weaving tales of ancient myths, fashion influences, and a harmonious blend of past and present

Artist Debapriyo Nandan Purkayastha’s collection stands as a testament to his profound artistic prowess.

The intricate drawings, painted coloured works on paper, and the monumental wall mural-esque drawing, adorned with thousands of hand-drawn figures, collectively underscore the artist’s unique perspective and creative depth.

Despite being a graduate in fashion and design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Delhi, Purakayastha, who is currently based in Delhi, moved to paintings of Indian mythology, taking inspiration from his childhood memories of Durga Puja in his home state of Assam.

Nandan Purkayasrtha and Uma Nair

“I was inspired by ancient Indian mythology, as well as old western cowboy classics,” said Purkayastha, who was born in Assam.

His work, mostly in monochrome drawings and paintings, comes in intricately detailed pen-and-ink imagery on paper.

“Durga Puja festivities and rituals, ranging from creation of the idols to their immersion, are featured with depth and dimension,” he said.

Nandan Purkayastha

Though faceless, his idols and people bring the imagery alive with interrelated elements composed in contoured spiral patterns. Influenced by the Bengali alphabet’s forms, his drawings reflect observations and imaginative interpretations.

At his solo exhibition ‘Genesis’, which concluded on January 23 at Bikaner House, over 80 of his drawings, including two expansive canvases titled “As Time Goes By I & II” were displayed. The exhibition beautifully captured the essence of Indian history and antiquity.

The monumental centrepiece, “Time and Being”, spanning 17 ft x 7 ft, transformed into a drawing, mirroring a mural, creating a cinematic continuum.

Curator Uma Nair said, “His figures move from antiquity to present poise, his carefully orchestrated angles and scales meet the human gaze gently, permeating the walls, with a dynamism and an invisible force that radiates from the beginning towards the end of the works on paper.”

The impact of his training in fashion is evident in the drapery and hairstyle of figures and the contours of birds and beasts in his work. The artist has held several solo and group shows in Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.

The exhibition, which was hosted across two floors of the Centre for Contemporary Art at Bikaner House, aimed to inspire ecological consciousness, highlighting the enduring connections between humanity, nature, time, and life.

Today, Purkayastha plans to conduct live drawing sessions daily using circular canvases resembling mandalas. These sessions, according to the artist, aim to harmonise the essence of the past and the present while showcasing the beauty of human figures in art.