The fresco in the Central Library is a sight to behold. It casts its imperious shadow on hundreds of students every day, yet how many of us actually pause for a minute and attempt to decipher its meaning, the enigma it withholds? Same is the case with the Vitruvian Man outside the Architecture department. Most of us cycle past it without giving it and its intricacies a second glance (or thought). These and a few more, notably the frescoes on the walls of the Nehru Museum and the Netaji Auditorium, make for a rich art heritage few campuses (and definitely no IITs!) can boast of.
Right from a bunch of straight lines one draws as a kid, random doodles made during idle day-dreaming, appreciating the odd Impressionist landscape or a Modernist Hussain, Art by itself forms a large part of the universe of our conscious and subconscious imagery. Like a multi-layered narrative, it has something for everyone and is open to interpretations aplenty. We, at TSA, were intrigued and decided to explore the history behind the works of art in the campus and were pleasantly surprised by the labyrinth we discovered. All roads, though, led us to one name: Mr. Barin Roy.
Mr. Barin Roy was an employee of the Institute who, under the patronage of several directors, has designed all of the aforementioned works in his own unique style and technique, some of which have been lost with him. Take for example the case of the Vitruvian Man. It was created using ceramic glazing, a process wherein bricks are first painted with powdered chemicals and placed in a kiln, thereby attributing to the brick a colour characteristic to different temperatures. Such creations have a long shelf-life, although the same cannot be said about the fresco in the Central Library and the Netaji Auditorium. The former is being deteriorated by humidity and dust (India?!) while the latter underwent a restoration after a part of it was damaged a few years earlier. Mr. Roy’s oeuvres have a distinct old Indian mysticism about them, an abstractness that fuses aesthetics with science and technology. The Nehru Museum has also released his paintings as a part of its thematic calendar.
Art plays a major role in the cultural milieu of the campus. It is an embodiment not only of the ethos of the student community, but is also quite evocative as a visual medium for the spirit of creativity. The recently concluded events of Illumination and Rangoli have fostered these for over a decade now. It is time now for us to expand our horizons and aim for a more modern form of expression to complement the new wave of infrastructure sweeping over the campus. Prof. P. Patnaik discussed with us a proposal of his, of painting the boundary wall of the Academic complex, where we could project our views on the current affairs via the medium of art. The Dean of Alumni Affairs, Prof. Amit Patra suggested that if the students are willing, a competition could be arranged for adorning the new SAC walls with graffiti imbuing the new building with a sublime fervor.
So you could don your painter hat/‘hoody’, arm yourself with a palette/spray can and paint the campus with your colours. Take your pick. Or you could simply sit in one of the armchairs of the Central Library and contemplate the sheer size and the profound meaning hidden among the layers of paint of the self-effacing fresco.
(We would love to hear from you about what you think of the art scene on the campus and the idea of leaving a legacy of our own in form of street art. TSA thanks Prof. P. Patnaik, Prof. Amit Patra, Prof. Jaydip Barman for their valuable insight and views.)