Mantu Das

 Mantu Das Mantu Das is eager to experience the ambience and translate them through his paintings and new media works. His current practice focuses on pictorial satires through regional history and fables. He constructs his images from common narratives with which every single viewer could connect. In most of the cases when we take the position of the onlooker, we enjoy various acts in the society which have deeper sociological, political or religious context hidden underneath. The real and unreal spaces collide constantly with each other but still their existence is realized in the presence of one another. Taking references from the popular and mundane he tries to re-establish facts through personal fantasies, myth and narratives. The constant ironies and contestations between opposing facts and figures helps him to shape an imaginary space of his own. Where the prolonged associations with new people will infuse new thoughts in him. Such new thoughts would be the inception of new narratives. His mental fabrics will be woven in new threads collected at the works. As His practice is not only limited to two dimensional surfaces he would like to create some interactive works through which he could engage more people. The digital world has been part of his process thus in such a long span he could like to do a few works exploiting digital media. So he could rather keep himself open to the yet to be unveiled possibilities and would engage himself accordingly.

On Air: Mantu Das

The ikono On Air Festival is showing two films by Mantu Das: 15+15=30th October, Wash your hands with Holy water before you pick up the carcasses (2012)  Mantu Das Artist statement: "The video titled "15+15=30th October, Wash your hands with Holy water before you pick up the carcasses" is my personal take on 2008 bomb blasts in my na-tive city Guwahati, India. The day of 15th October, is marked as Global Hand Wash Day, and in 2008, the Government of India has taken the initiative to in-clude it in the Public Health and Sanitation Programme of the State of Assam. Streets of Guwahati were proliferated with hoardings/graffiti/banners of this campaign. People observed the day at various places with much seriousness. In Assam, the majority of residents are pious Hindu. To them, the idea of washing hands is synonymous to a religious act. On the day of 30th October, 2008, just a fortnight after the Global Hand Wash Day- Guwahati was devastated by the serial bomb blasts on a busy office day. The mutilated and scattered bodies were all over. While some news channels were reporting this traumatic news, others were telecasting their usual melodramatic soap-operas and other entertainment programmes. I wanted to ad-dress the overlap of time and spaces. People on this particular day had to wash their hands with blood instead of water. The hoardings/graffiti/banners were still on the streets, looking over the carcasses and the city." I Feel Insecure Without My Helmet (2009)  Mantu Das Artist statement: "In the video titled-"I Feel Insecure Without My Helmet" I wandered around several public spaces on a regular bicycle, veiling my own self with a helmet and even in the most secured interiors, I refused to reveal my face. This video addressed and enacted a life event of an insecure ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) terrorist from my native place in Guwahati,India. During my child hood years, while growing up in such a politically troubled state, I became aware of this man who use to live in my neighborhood. His identity was known to everyone but yet he never came out unmasked in the public, fearing of getting assassinated if recognized." Excerpt:


Mantu Das was born in Assam, in 1986. He moved to Santiniketan for study painting at Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan and graduated in 2010. He finished his master’s degree in also painting from Visva-Bharati University in 2012. Currently working in a Space Studio Baroda, India. - Homepage of Mantu Das : Mantu Das - Changing Nation Changing Icons Artist statement: "How many of us remember the name of Laxmi Oraon - the tribal girl from Assam, who was forcibly stripped, brutally assaulted and paraded naked in public on 24th November 2007. The image of her assault went viral after the incident turning her into a victim- icon overnight. Her iconic image may fade from the memory of her countrymen but her struggle continues even today. She is still awaiting justice. Probably she is not the only woman in the queue standing before our lame judicial system. Several other women had been exposed to such barbaric experience. I personally refuse to see them as mere victims rather they appear to me as symbols of courage, strength and resistance. In India ideologically (not in reality) women are given the highest respect but the regular incidents of violence towards the fairer sex compels me to review our notion of motherland. Abanindranath’s 1905 version of ‘Bharat Mata’ not only idealized the essential image of our motherland but also addressed our national esteem. The same image also evolves as an icon of resistance. This idealized image brings forth the issues of imparting knowledge to the country men, providing food and raiment for all etc. These two images of resistance when seen in juxtaposition, emerges as complete opposites. The image of Laxmi Oraon, neither celebrates the womanhood nor glorifies the issues of knowledge. It probably stands as an image of national shame. It points the finger towards us and questions the legitimacy of our knowledge. We the countrymen, who constantly seek a chance and take pride in quoting the martyrs from the past, leave no stones unturned to malign the same. I have used several other popular images which add to such irony."

Curators' Special

Part of the curatorial selection of Frank Barthelemy