Some would say that far far away from the maddening crowd and the sickening cacaphony there exists a place of ultimate serenity. In the lush green fields and the starry dark sky there exists a moment of eternal tranquility. A moment of losing one’s own self, a moment of surrender to the little wings of the red and blue butterfly. Some would say. Some others would say that even in the hustle and bustle of a heritage city, there exists a bliss of solitude. In the so called sanity of a process driven society, there lives a spark of absolute insanity. Even in the monotony of mundane interactions and daily chores, a silent city may get metamorphosed into a harmonic polyphony.
Konkona woke up to the chief pilot’s announcement of the Prague borne Emirates flight.
She was an internationally acclaimed painter and was invited by the Art Council of Prague as a guest of honour to one of Czech Republic’s biggest and most prestigious digital art exhibitions. Van Gogh – The immersive experience.
8:00 am local time.16th June, 2018. The flight landed. She along with a team of artists (who were invited to various other festivals) were received and greeted by Govt officials at the arrival counter of the Prague International Airport. The journey from the airport to the hotel was a very comfortable one. The people seemed very cordial and whole heartedly helped Konkona understand the vibe of the place and the logistics of travelling inside the city. Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Valtava River. Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show. Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with statues of Catholic saints. A city with a unique vibe, a wonderland where time comes to a standstill and the inquisitive traveller gets lost in the maze of vibrant musicians, artists and people. With the mammoth cathedrals and castles (gothic structures) adding to the wonderland feel, Prague was love at first sight for Konkona.
The exhibtion was scheduled for two days, 16th and 17th June, 2018. Konkona had been invited on the first day itself as she was the guest of honour. 6:00 pm. A chauffer driven car was waiting outside her hotel in the main area of old town square. She reached the venue at 6:15 pm. A thickening crowd (consisting mainly of art lovers from all over the European union and from other countries as well) was slowly gathering near the main entrance of the recreated and reconstructed art museum. Konkona got a special treatment and entered the building through a different entrance which was assigned for guests and dignitaries. She was not happy. She always wanted to be part of the people. She never enjoyed special treatment. Nonetheless, she followed protocol. Every now and then, She felt witnessing something like this would be a surreal and once in a lifetime experience. A life changing encounter for sure.
Before entering the main area of the museum, she was felicitated by the director of the council and presented with a bouquet of yellow daffodils and a framed certificate acknowledging her contribution to the development of modern art. She entered through the main gate into a 3D world of art. At first, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
It was a 360° experience. The first image said ‘Vincent Van Gogh – The immersive experience’. She was so excited that she froze for a few seconds. She had goosebumps which made her feel alive once again. The madness she was searching for all these years was right in front of her. The crisis that she was fighting all these years had the resolution waiting for her. She slowly walked towards the next room. Lot of people were waiting in a queue to enter the room. At a time only ten people were allowed in that room. She geared up for witnessing a spectacle. Her heart beats were rushing through, accelerating each moment, the song which she haunted her for days and nights kept resonating in her ears, the reverberation reaching her soul. Suddenly the security person waved his hand and made a signal to the next ten people to enter the room. She was part of the group now. But she was completely alone at the same time.
She entered the room. She stood in the middle of the room and couldn’t move a single muscle. She was frozen. She was dumbstruck. She was spellbound. The genius Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’ was all over the room. It was a 360° viewing experience. As she kept looking at the digital form of the painting she could visualise the blue flowing into the gray, the yellow flowing into the black, the white flowing into the brown. All the colours were conversing amongst themselves. Some were talking about rain in their childhood, some were talking about bright sunshine. The colours were all speaking to each other and to Konkona as well. She could visualise her own city Kolkata through the painting. Suddenly the moon made her visualise the mall road of Darjeeling. Serenity and tranquility of the moonlit Mall road. She was losing herself completely. She was getting sucked into a black hole of insanity. People would say she’s hallunicating, but in reality she found answers to her questions. She was flowing towards the bliss of insanity. She felt like she was inside a whirlpool. Suddenly Konkona woke up to her mother’s call. She realised she was in her bed at her Deshapriya Park residence. The day was 25th December, 2018. She did not see her mother so excited in the last few years. She had a letter in her hand which she gave to Konkona. She opened the letter and found that one of her paintings got selected for an exhibition in the Van Gogh School of Arts, Prague. She was just 21 completing her graduate studies in painting at the Govt Art College, Kolkata. She looked up towards the large self potrait in her room and smiled, her eyes and soul filled with tears of gratitute and unconditional love. The person in the painting was her God and her teacher as well. Vincent Van Vogh.