LEARNING THE ART OF UNTAMED WITH ORIJIT SEN

At India Design ID, 20 young artists had the pleasure of learning from graphic artist Orijit Sen and participating in a textile workshop featuring linocut experiments inspired by dynamic expressions of pop culture, co-mentored by Poorva Shingre.

Asian Paints Colour Next 2018 and Taxi Fabric came together recently with graphic artist Orijit Sen to present Untamed - a textile workshop featuring linocut experiments to provide a complete experience of designing textile prints and understanding the making of a simple, functional product like a tote bag, cushion cover or a scarf.

The session began with revered visual artist Orijit Sen taking the participants through a presentation of his work, from the earliest artworks he ever made as a graphic artist to pages of his wordless graphic novels to his work with People Tree - a craft organisation he runs with his wife - to his recent 2014 series of screenprinted posters that play with the very concept of posters and pay homage to the likes of Salvador Dali and Bob Marley while also spoofing them. “To be a rebel, you have to live a certain way and pursue the dissent in your work. For me, I’ve been working with different mediums for 30 years and reacting to society has always been an inspiring force,” said Orijit, adding that the theme of 'Untamed' excites him owing to the many ways one can interpret it in the contemporary context.

Following his presentation, a quick demo on the linocut process was given by printmaker and designer Poorva Shingre, taking everyone through the techniques and tools. Orijit noted that one of the main goals of the workshop was to get the artists to work with their hand, which is something lacking in the contemporary scene in the digital age we live in. “I believe that a lot of what we consider 'brain' actually lies in our hands,” he said, before proceeding to mentor the participants, discuss their motifs and give them tips on their work.

After the illustration phase came the etching, and it was wonderful to see 20 artists at work - each with their own styles and stories playing out in their work.

Artist and graphic designer Poorva Shingre co-mentored the workshop, and was amazed by how the session went. "I had applied for doing the workshop, but was asked to co-mentor. It was amazing because I enjoyed immersing myself in the process and sharing my love for printmaking with an eager audience. It's strange because I went in all nervous and excited and emerged feeling like a part of every person's work, which was special. It was a lot of emotions at the same time," she said.

Through the course of the day, the participants went on to choose the product they wanted to make and with the help of three master tailors, they learnt the techniques of cutting and customising their own patterns for their textile products.

At the end of the workshop, a smiling Orijit contemplated about the day that was. “When I made my initial presentation, I enjoyed the connect with the audience, and felt we were all on the same page. The results of the workshop reflected the same. These are large ideas we’re talking about that you don't expect to see the impact of immediately. But the conversations I had with some of the participants were insightful. I've worked with young people before, and it's always engaging. I'd like to teach more but I don't as I'm busy with my own practice. So shorter workshops like this allow me to enter the space briefly and understand what's going on in the minds of the younger generation,” he said, adding that his favorite was Aparna's story of the adivasi man who was killed in Palakkad recently for apparently stealing rice “None of the others had such a strong direct take on a current political event. I love it when there's a backstory that gets absorbed and expressed not literally but in a strong, visual language.”

On how the workshop experience was, Poorva added, "Everyone was from different backgrounds- product designers, architects, printmakers, illustrators. So what was interesting was to see them try and visualize how a design would look when drawn, carved and printed. I'm so proud of how much they achieved despite the limited time. With every step, the level of excitement kept increasing and by the end of it, they were ecstatic! Everyone went home blown away, which is the best feeling as a mentor."

The workshop was facilitated by Asian Paints Colour Next 2018, with the theme of ‘Untamed’ being picked from their annual trend forecast for the year. Vidya Iyer, from Colour Research and Design, Asian Paints, said that the company examines societal trend and lifestyle changes and decodes it as a design and decor forecast for Indian consumers and as an inspiration trigger. The theme of ‘Untamed’ emerged from the political scenario in the country and worldwide, reflecting how people in power get away with absurd practices, which triggers a course of action in the tamer common man. “The common man, in this case artists, are using absurdity to convey a stronger idea that's more impactful for society. Their dissent comes from refusing to accept things as they are and wanting to bring about a revolution in whatever small way they can. An example is artists talking about the shameless-ness of menstruation and the importance of women’s hygiene but using innovative, artistic ways to talk about the issue. Or the girl with the cow head walking on the streets of India to show that cows are more important than women in our society,” explained Vidya.

Stemming from that, the workshop in collaboration with Taxi Fabric came from the idea of creating a product line inspired by the theme of Untamed, Rebellion and Dissent. “We thought that a workshop would make sense to explore the theme and chose artists whose style of communication were in sync with the trend itself. We could have just done a talk, but wanted people to spend time understanding the issue, interpreting it with a free mind and using their hands to create something. It's a way to experience the Asian Paints trend like never before. We love hosting such events because it's a great way for the community to take back something in a bigger way,” she wrapped up.