Kurchi Dasgupta is an artist and writer based in Kathmandu for the past 12 years. She is a self-taught artist who also writes about art for various publications. She has a Masters degree in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University, and once headed a prestigious INGO in Kolkata. She has also translated classic Bengali books into English for well known publishers in India.
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What does art mean to you?
Art is something that raises questions about the current state of things in a fundamental yet subtle way. But it also opens up windows into new possibilities and perceptions. It is an act of resistance at one level, but also intellectually and spiritually rewarding, and very intensely so at another. Art, in its true sense, is quite a rarity in fact.
Which medium do you like working with the most?
Oil on canvas… and also the stage.
I rarely find inspiration in another work of art, though I learn a lot from artworks and artist statements. My inspiration comes more from the world of philosophy, science, critical theory, literature, films. You may have noticed that I sometimes use images of other artist’s works in my paintings – I do so not because the work or artist is a mere ‘inspiration’ – for just about anything can be an inspiration (the sunset everyday is an inspiration!)- but because it triggered in me a need to have a stylistic/ideological conversation with the work or that artist.
Message you want to convey through your work…
I don’t have a message to give. Except maybe: Don’t stop questioning the things and norms that make up your everyday. Don’t take things for granted because they have been there for years or centuries. Try and see things with eyes bearing the burden of history but also enough wonder. The wonder helps you see things fresh, but historical awareness gives you the strength to pinpoint when something is not ethically right and needs to change.
Your best work till date…
I think this is an unfair question. Any artist worth their salt grows intellectually and skill-wise every few months, and morphs into something different or better. I myself go through phases that change every couple of years. So I have a favourite from each phase I have been through!
Favourite Nepali artist
Shashikala Tiwari. She set the ball rolling for women artists in this country and continues to make new work even today. I wish I had her stamina and single mindedness.
One international art festival you would like to be part of and why?
This may come across as a bit of a childish fixation, but yes, Documenta of course.
If you weren’t an artist…
A writer definitely, and afterwards, may be an actor too.
Where can people contact you for your work?
My website (www.kurchidasgupta.com) contains my contact details. I have an art agent in Kolkata and he can easily be reached via email.
Try and develop my art making and writing/theoretical work into a more integrated body of work. Right now, what I write and what I paint are in conversation with each other all the time. But sometimes that conversation eludes an outsider. I would like this interaction between my socio-political interests, my philosophical/theoretical concerns and my own paintings/artworks to become more accessible to a larger body of readers and viewers. But this will take time. I also hope to do a solo exhibition again soon, but my works get collected fast and I never seem to have quite enough works to fill a white cube.