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Samir Mondal

Samir Mondal was born in a Bengal village called Balti. Like most of his contemporaries he came to Calcutta for his education. He graduated from the Government Art College in 1975. This was in many ways a critical period for the art of his region. Some of his elders had already thrown away the weight of such legendary movements as the Bengal School of Painting or the Calcutta Group. There was turmoil in the air necessarily brought about by bold experimentation and a youthful rebelliousness. When he left Art College, Mondal was thus poised to see new horizons. Throughout his career since, he has never lost sight of them, has reached them and made them his own. 

Mondal's most important contribution to the art of his generation is a sustained revival of watercolour. Actually, it is not the easy medium it seems. It presents a number of traps and handicaps. But Mondal has skirted them successfully by giving his paintings weight and depth, solidity and expressiveness. He has invested watercolours with the status of oils. There is no need to discuss the technicalities of this miracle. It is enough to say that, year by year. Mondal has projected a personality of watercolour such as was never visualized in this medium. 

Then came various female types clubbed together against their natural habitat in the series Women in Nature. There was also shelter pinpointing the existence of people seeking accommodation while still living alone. Alisha was built around an image of a teenage girl having a hesitant relationship with her mother. In Performer, Mondal looked at dancers from a new angle. 

One of Mondal's most significant series was The War and the Butterflies. It developed the paradox of these two images, almost like that unforgettable last shot in Lewis Milestone's film-All Quiet on the Western Front of a dying soldier trying to reach out to a butterfly perched on the edge of his trench.

Mondal has exhibited in major cities, and has experienced many German cities (under, the Indo-German Cultural Exchange Programme) and of Paris. He has also collaborated with the eminent poet and media person Pritish Nandy on a number of projects. He created the Mulla Naseeruddin series for The Illustrated Weekly in which each episode was represented by a separate painting. Mondal's full page portraits of film stars and other prominent personalities in The Sunday Observer have been widely appreciated. 

His watercolours have never lost their purity, their inventiveness and their classic elegance.