His Pandora’s Box

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Artist Narayan Chandra Sinha’s house is not just a showcase of beautiful artworks lovingly created by him. It is a definition of the man himself—simple, unpretentious with a love for the larger-than-life. ACF goes visiting.
Many moons ago, while Narayan Chandra Sinha was struggling to establish himself in the arena of creative art and sculpting in India, a friend told him, “Work very hard Narayan. But pause, take a deep breath once in a while and enjoy life…” Today, when accolades and recognition, not to mention commercial success, have flown in thick and fast into Narayan’s life, it is this suggestion that the artist takes very seriously. “Sometimes in the pursuit of success an artist forgets to feed his own creativity. I can’t afford that. It is imperative that I relax so that my aesthetic nerve is stimulated,” says Narayan, sitting at his stunning home at Nalhati, in the Birbhum district of West Bengal.
The home in Nalhati is a reflection of the person Narayan is, simple, unpretentious, earthy and a veritable celebration of life and creativity. Filled to the brim with Narayan’s own paintings and sculptures, for the artist it is as much a working space as a relaxing ground. The architecture is warm, cozy and ensconced by an unruly lushness around. “I let nature take its own strides. The bougainvillea is blooming in its own beauty. The strategically places sculptures enliven the garden.” The artist has designed the home in a way that the locals (who can request a visit), who are completely divorced from the world of art that Narayan thrives in, gets to view his works, without being confused or intimidated.
Born into an academic family, Narayan was studying to be a doctor when his heart directed him otherwise. “My father was into automobiles and transport. When I told him that I was cut out for a more creative career, he supported my decision but decided that I would have to finance it myself. My journey started from scratch. But without the struggle I wouldn’t be cherishing it all with pride.”
From a very young age, Narayan exhibited a knack of creating something with scraps, junk, old utensils, nuts, bolts and metallic tidbits. While his first exhibition was on paintings, eventually he started sculpting seriously and excelled in the form. His sculptures, made out of old shipyard junk, utensils, headlights, railway lanterns, silencer pipes and what not, bare a unique character. His ideas are out-of-the-ordinary and the dimensions they take beautify any surroundings they occupy. Narayan’s works have adorned prestigious corridors of art and fashion.
The Nalhati home is a treasure trove of his brilliance. Mirrors created out of glass, nuts and bolts, chandeliers from old water carriers, cart wheels have attained different shapes and use, nutcrackers and utensils form beautiful artefacts. “I wanted the house to be a repository of warmth and relaxation. I’ve presented an Indian sensibility in a contemporary way,” the artist explains.
With six bedrooms and three sitting areas, there are no regular sofas here. Casual benches have been laid out with colourful cushions. Most of the wooden furniture was collected from a British warehouse that was closing down. “The idea was to exhibit a lost heritage. Many parts are exported to foreign shores and being melted because people don’t know how to give them a fresh lease of life.”
Old trunks from Narayan’s ancestors and vintage furniture find space here. These are blessings of his elders, without which Narayan feels he would not have succeeded. “I wanted my sister, Mahua to be married off from my home. This house hosted the entire wedding and it was a special feeling.”
Narayan’s efforts in creating a home-cum-art hub have paid off. His excitement is palpable when he mentions how artists visit his nest for the peace they find here. “It’s an inexplicable joy seeing how my home is attracting people with its simple aesthetics,” trails off Narayan.
Photos: Suvashis Mullick

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