In Quest of Treasure Troves of Art
Dr. Alok Roy, with his master's from Barodha, India, having studied mural for master's degree and under K.G. Subramanyam of world repute for Painting etc., has completed his sculpture display recently at South Korea. Passionate and alive with inspiration, Alok speaks of fine arts in general, and his aims and hopes in particular. He informs one that he hopes to bring a message of peace and satisfaction to the world at large, and whoever they may be. His ideals and aspirations remain realistic and optimistic, keeping the entire world in his vision. A teacher, "friend, guide and philosopher" for decades -- Alok had admirable professors from the subcontinent -- who had added more lustre to their scope with added knowledge from the more developed overseas techniques and ideas . This included individuals, such as Rafiqun Nabi and Monirul Islam. Recently Alok has completed his Residency in The Netherlands EKWC (European Ceramics Work Centre) -- this being the best European centre for experts who wish to experiment with ceramics; this itself being connected with architecture, leather etc. Later on he gleaned more of the rich art treasure troves of Madrid., staying with Monirul Islam.
Alok Roy hopes to continue with work of sculpting and teaching till the sands of time have run out. Articulate, always poised to say whatever is correct -- Alok Roy discusses his aims and dreams, without a backward glance.
Touching on the subject of what an artist should aim for, creative mind, imagination or to make a " quick buck" in the "get quick rich" 21st century world of ours -- Alok Roy says," In my personal view, a person begins his life, as an artist; he then continues to work, hoping to widen his horizon. A true artist aims at expanding his boundary of his work and viewers. An artist is not sure whether he can eventually reach the people, but creativity and drive aims at reaching as many people as possible and probable. Of course, his own creativity and imagination gets priority over all else. When we begin our life, we don't know where we will reach. But as we work, work itself tells us which way to move and go along. I may say that at the outset, I got admitted in the Art College, I thought that it would surely provide me two simple rice- and- 'daal ' (pulse) meals a day. When I graduated in 1973, completing my Bachelor's degree, I trudged on to India to complete my Masters.
Our youth has been spent from 1969 to 1971, during the period of Liberation and various movements passed through our time; we were naturally involved in these efforts for freedom of expression. This was and is the centre for a lot of activities, social, political, etc. This was a major influence in my life. When I finished my graduation, having obtained my scholarship to study at Barodha, I had Mural as my subject, beginning my creation in clay. This was because we have a century-old tradition in Bengal. If you compare this with other parts of India, this is as good as anything else, keeping in mind the temples, mosques, forts, palaces etc. The clay culture began in the Indus Valley, and moved on to us at Mainamati, Mahasthangarh and Paharpur, as one knows. As one had very few stones to work with, one resorted to clay for one's creative efforts. Clay, in skill, idea, utility, found its culmination in Bengal in the south of the Indian subcontinent. Since my teacher, at that time, was working with something that appeared like tiles, and lead to murals.
"When I returned to my country in 1978, I held my first exhibition in tiles, relief-like work i.e., inspired by KG Subramaniam, my last teacher. Later I moved on to three-dimentional work, which is totally different. My first efforts were to comprehend the medium, such as plaster of Paris. We have black terracotta, which is done by burning the clay from within, with smoke. My work can be seen in the National Museum of Bangladesh, for which I got the gold medal at the Asian Biennale in 1989. This technique is found in places like Japan too.
From work on slabs, Alok, has moved on massive statues, once exhibited in the recent past, at the Bengal Gallery and the British Council, Dhaka. This is done part by part or even at one go, as he did recently, at EKWC , Den Boshe, at the Netherlands, where Van Gogh came from, and where this genius of all times, worked, in his earliest days, as a priest. Alok is self-taught, as his last training is in Mural, and has not been trained, as such in clay expertise. Yes, in his training period, he has done work in cement, wood, casting , plaster, clay etc. -- but all these works are related to architecture. It is only after coming to Bangladesh, that Alok began working as his inspiration guided him, ad lib.
Asked if gallery owners/ critiques come to their own conclusion, whether factory-made work can overwhelm the vision of art buffs, Alok says, " The work of an artist is to continue his creative work, to the best of his ability. He /she does not have to depend on the galleries to provide the essentials of his/her existence, and doesn't have to depend on the art market. At times, the creative artist, in his/her first years of life can't sell their works. Once the artist is famous, he/she gets the correct reward in the art market, at times. The artist has to forget his/her own soul pitch. If the artist sticks to his creative urge only, the work itself will guide the artist. Gallery owners will then bow and scrape to him/her.
Talking of what he gives credit to, for his position as the head of the Department of Sculpture in the Chittagong University of Fine Arts. Alok says, that his wife, Niloofar Chaman, was supportive from the outset. She is not only a great help in creating a peaceful atmosphere in which he can work at will and at peace, but also provides helpful creative assessment of his work. She too works as a sculptor and welcomes experimental work.
Alok says that he has had the opportunity to have visited numerous academies overseas ; and having met them at seminars, he is changing the foundation course at the Department of Fine Arts, Chittagong University. "I believe that we should be changing the curriculum, in order to keep abreast with the rest of the progressive world. I try to pursue this end in as actively as possible . At first I dealt with the most trained ones. Now I begin at the junior most classes. Thus I get fresh minds to work with. There are fewer cobwebs in their minds. Their receptive abilities are the best to work with, in order to have the finest possible results at the very end of their time at the University," says Alok.
Wrapping up, Alok says that at one time skill was of great importance. Now, he insists, new ideas are vital. Creativity is of great value too. Imagination too goes a long way in the making of an unforgettable piece of art work. He makes the curriculum as it is in Europe and the US. He aims at the artist to be efficient experts who can face any challenge in their jobs, as soon as they graduate. They will not flounder and go astray, he hopes. He wants them to be driven and gutsy as he himself.
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