Bhupenda Portait

Katneswar Barman’s Sculptures

Shanti Nagar, a beautiful hilly place near the 4th APBN head quarter. I frequently visit this place. Many poor women of this area have availed credit from Ujjivan and earning their livelihood. But yesterday’s visit was bit more delightful. I went to see the impacts of tiny loans among under-privileged families of this area. Suddenly, I met a person. At a winter morning, the man at sixty was enjoying the heat of burning firewood. When I closely looked at him, he was giving the final touch on his first ever concrete sculpture. Balladeer of Brahmaputa Dr. Bhupen Hazarika is smiling through his tough hands. The hands, for the last 42 years were carrying AK47.

Kanteswar Barman, a just retired police officer of Assam Battalion, had started his career as a constable in the year of 1967. He had to given up his education before matriculation due to poor economic condition of his family. But the police protocol could not arrest the creativity of this inborn artist. In the year of 1976, he found the world as a canvas not just a battle field. The hands, which had cleaned the barrels of the gun everyday, took brush and started painting. Episodically, he continued oil painting, mixed media painting and wooden sculpture through out his police career.

“Being a responsible police officer it’s very tough to concentrate on creativity” Mr. Barman said. Now, he has plenty of time, but unfortunately due old age he has lost his control over his finger. Oil painting, mixed media painting needs maximum smoothness of finger. The inborn artist has chosen another medium to express his creativity, started concrete sculpture. And most interestingly, his first project is Bhupenda! For the last three months he is working on the same.

I was looking so curiously his work on Bhupenda’s statue. He suddenly stopped his work and takes me into his drawing room. I was shocked; the room was full of his paintings and wooden sculptures. He described me one by one. Mahatma Gandhi’s wooden statue, Anna Hazare’s wooden statue and numbers of other amazing creative pieces were kept on the room. The paintings are eye-catching as well as mind-blowing. One oil painting on de-forestation proves his geniuses.

But unfortunately, all these beautiful pieces were stored haphazardly; some of those were getting fungi and colors getting pale. Usually these type sculptures and painting are kept in dry and dust free weather and appropriate temperature is also maintained. Sometimes coating also used for durability of these pieces. When I asked about preservation and conservation; his wife answered “some of his painting also got burnt”.

After having a long chat, I came to know that, till date his works are not reported by any new paper also and financially he is not sound to preserve these on a meaningful way. In 2009, he was awarded second prize in an exhibition held at Judges Field, Guwahati. That is the only recognition he has received so far!

Spontaneously, I got committed to do my level best to preserve his noble works. But again unfortunately, I can’t move a single step with out your help.

Published in Dare2Speak.org on 1-2-12

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