KOLKATA, India — Firelight, local artist Narayan Sinha’s solo exhibition, is nothing short of spectacular. The mansion-sized exhibition features over 150 installations, converting a dilapidated, 130-year old house in the heart of the city into the artist’s playground.
Installation view of Narayan Sinha, “Charred Soul” (2020), iron and rubber, 100 x 113 x 18 inches, in Firelight (photo © Vivian Sarky)
Firelight is the culmination of a decade-long artistic journey for Sinha. A labor of love, the exhibition is a manifestation of the artist’s dreams and nightmares. Internal struggles and restlessness play out in the paintings and sculptures. Steeped in metaphor, the show is an exploration of medium and ideas in their rawest forms, of the chaos contained in the organic.
When Sinha chanced upon the unoccupied house owned by a local business, he was immediately drawn to it. He started working with the found space, leaving its natural state untampered. While the house itself tells its own story, Sinha breathes new narratives into scrap metal, wood, twigs, stone, tyres and other found materials, sourced from a scrapyard in Nalhati. Sewage pipes become gateways to surreal scenery, metallic animal heads float in the bathroom, and plastic horns turn into a crimson spring bloom.
Sinha’s installation “Pranshakti,” like many others on view, was created after he and his family contracted COVID-19. It depicts a decapitated animal-like form suspended from a high ceiling, a tribute to the life force that saved him from the virus. Another installation “I believe I can fly,” a phantasmagorical bird-like creature, stands tall on the lawn outside, against a backdrop of coconut trees.
There is a density to how the works are installed, with no breathing space between those indoors. In the garden and courtyard lie the more majestic pieces — a massive tree trunk that fell during cyclone Amphan, for example, is given a new form.
Installation view of Narayan Sinha, “Ekatto : : Unitary” (2020), Iron, rubber and wood, 94 x 64 x 40 inches, in Firelight (photo © Vivian Sarky)
The drama of Sinha’s site-specific exhibition is further heightened by the play of light and shadow, as well as the indelible natural soundscapes of running water, hissing steam, and a hooting owl. Visitors are encouraged to drop in once it’s dark to maximize the show’s haunting, immersive experience.
But Sinha’s underlying message is clear: Stop trying to fight mother nature. Overwhelming and inspiring, Firelight is a wild celebration of abundance and nature in a fittingly unusual setting.
Firelight continues through June 16 at 12 Queens Park, Kolkata, 4pm to 9pm local time. (The artist is usually there to give tours of the exhibition.)