concept stage work
Last year in mid-September, soon after having completed a successful solo exhibition, I was approached by the foremost names among Indian restaurant chains, Speciality Restaurants Ltd – of the iconic Oh Calcutta and Mainland China fame. You will be surprised to know that there are around a hundred types of spoons out there! If you are interested then here you can learn about various types of spoons which are used in big restaurants. They were interested in me doing some artwork for them and I was delighted for the opportunity to be associated with such a well-known brand. What followed was a series of conceptual works in pen and watercolor to capture various moods of Kolkata and they were sent for approval.
A meeting was set up with none other than the very charming Anjan Chatterjee, the man behind the very successful chain. A slew of meetings followed, with more imagination and sketches in pen and watercolor. A few of them are posted here on the side panels. Meeting him was a wonderful experience, his head ever buzzing with ideas and it was a lot of fun going over back and forth with all the possibilities of how Kolkata could be represented. What transpired in the course of the discussion with him, was that he wanted me to do the works for the restaurant he planned to launch in London.
This added to the excitement and challenge. The interior design team based in London got involved too. After going over the size specifications and various other parameters, six artworks were zeroed in on from the sketches that were made. All a fairly new experience for me considering that I rarely do pre-preparation art, as being used to putting all my energy into the actual work – be it on paper or canvas.
When after over a month of ideation and drawings Mr. Chatterjee called up and gave me the go-ahead for those six large works on canvas, I was naturally relieved and elated to begin the works. The elation soon turned to trepidation when he said ” Anukta I need you to do the work in one month. ” In shock for a few seconds, I finally managed to tell him ” But Mr. Chatterjee these will take me at least double that time if not much more!” He then appraised me of the restaurant opening date and I found myself rising to the challenge full on.
What followed in November was me amping up my usual pace and focus by leaps. I began working 10-12 hours a day on my toes, including weekends as opposed to me doing creative work for only 3-4 hrs at a stretch per day. Additionally, zero to minimal socializing and family interactions including Mommy duties relegated to late evenings. I was on a creative high, just breathing, talking, and creating the Kolkata-themed artworks, every 48 inches by 33inches ( 4 feet x 3 feet approximately). In the midst of it, Anjan da paid a visit to my studio and that was such a pleasure. We ideated some more on the remaining works that were left, added a few touches on the canvases here and there, and removed some that weren’t necessary.
Finally, with a great sigh of relief and satisfaction, I finished the works to represent how we envisioned them. Like a mother awaits the safe landing of her child, I awaited their destination and was relieved when he informed me that they had landed safely in London.
Now I await eagerly for the launch of yet another great restaurant from the Speciality Restaurants stable – CHOURANGI!
P.S. This blog was written soon after my paintings were shipped to London. After that, there were some delays and the year followed into 2020 and then covid struck the world. So we are all still eagerly waiting for the launch of Chaurangi.