Raj Kumar Mazinder
The Indian state of Assam features strongly in Raj Kumar Mazinder’s multi award winning paintings. His works – with a predominance of the colour red and an intense energy – are expressions of the damage and unrest in his home-state of Assam.
'When I started out as a student in undergrad my subjects were mainly inward-looking, and largely referencing my home and family. With my Masters, I started looking more outwards: my focus had shifted to landscapes and local figures. Once I returned to Assam after my studies I started concentrating on the culture, the folk traditions, dances, especially from the remote interiors. This is also the time I began to zero in on the violence and unrest in my state.'
Most of Mazinder’s works mark important moments in the history of Assam and compare it ironically with the present. For example, some of his works shown here are drawn from the artefacts of the Forest Museum in Shillong which houses skeletons of dead animals like rhinos.
'Once upon a time these were all animals which roamed around in our forests, today they are inside a museum,' he says. Another subject of his focus is Mahatma Gandhi, whose relationship as a bridge between the North East and the rest of India stands in stark contrast to the present, where the region is consistently marginalised. 'Gandhiji made some very critical attempts to engage with Assam which were so successful that they led to renowned anthropological research by a foreign academic. He was a vehicle between India and the North East,' he says.
Mazinder’s works are housed in public and private collections across the world, including the Royal College of Art in London and the San Antonio Art Institute in the USA. He is a graduate of Visva Bharati, Santiniketan and MS University, Baroda. He lives and works at Assam University, Silchar, India.