By Chow Bilaseng Namchoom
I had the exceedingly good fortune of chatting with the 27 years old budding printmaker Kompi Riba who is native of Likabali, West Siang district, Arunachal Pradesh. Despite the fact that Printmaking in Arunachal Pradesh is a subject which many of the tribal people are unaware, Riba gambled to choose her carrier in Printmaking. Riba holds a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (Printmaking) from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkatta and a master’s degree in Fine Arts (Printmaking) from Visva Bharati University, Kolkatta. Riba passed her higher secondary exam in science stream with a distinction and like most others she could have chosen to become a doctor, engineer or an architect. But, drawing has always fascinated her and this played an important part in Riba’s decision to go for learning fine arts. Today, she recreates magic of each artwork in her own unique style. This, she has exhibited mostly in Kolkata and New Delhi and now plans to hold similar exhibition in other parts of the country. She has craved a niche of herself in producing mixed-media paintings, original handmade prints and bookmarks.
Currently she works as an Artist in SCERT (state council education research and training).
Here is what she has to say about her works:
CBN: Tell me something about yourself and education?
KR: My name is Kompi Riba and I was born on September 06, 1990. My father’s name is Nikom Riba and mother is Aman Riba. I belong to Galo tribe and native of West Siang (Likabali). I completed my bachelor’s education in fine arts (printmaking) from Rabindra Bharati University in the year 2013 and master fine arts (printmaking), from Visva Bharati University on 2015.
CBN: What inspired you to become an artist? Were either of your parents or any other family members interested in art, did you talk to them about art when you were young?
KR: To become an artist was not a childhood dream, the idea and concept of becoming an artist grew clearer after many exposures and experiences received in the field of Fine Art. Along the way in the field I realised my interest, with the encouragement and guidance of my professor’s, friends and family I grew and developed and was convinced that Art is my calling.
Yes the creativity and inclination towards art is from maternal side. One of my aunts is an architect. When I was young, I’m not very sure about having a talk about art, but yes my family did appreciate my drawings.
CBN: Could you please tell me a bit about your artistic journey? When did you begin to draw, when did you make the first print, what kind of encounters were important to you?
KR: I started drawing when I was in class-III Kid’s foundation School, Choungkham. There was a lady teacher who encouraged us to draw and paint. That was the first time when colours became my interest.
I took my first print during my elementary days, we use to draw and paint stickers and print out the image on our hand with spit on it.
In an Art field having meaningful and healthy conversation plays a vital role. Experience as such is important. Enables the artist to think, re-think and work on it.
CBN: Who is / are your favourite artists and why?
KR: Two of my favourites are: Rabindranath Tagore and Vincent Vangogh. Tagore because of his sensibility towards lines and forms he developed and of course his scribbling how he plays with the space of a paper and letters written on it. His honest expression of how he perceived beauty and interpret it.
Vangogh because of his innocent and honest interpretation of the world around him, every brushstroke painted on the surface defines his agony and still see the beauty. His fantastic colour palette.
Above all I see them because it is not just a ditto of something but rather an inspiration of what has convinced them to paint, an art that speak out where the artist and viewers both are engaged into the artwork.
CBN: Would you like to work with National Award-winning woodcut print artist Vijay Pitchumani?
KR: Yes, I would love to; there is no question to it.
CBN: What is the most valuable piece of advice anyone has given you that you still use today?
KR: Once my Art History Professor told me: you will go ahead, you will go more, you can….
If you have the URGE (she did emphasized here I still remember) to do so. And these valuable words have always been my encouragement till today.
CBN: Where do you find the subject matter for your work and how do you know when an image is ready?
KR: I don’t have a particular subject matter. My subjects are very seasonal, someday it’s a complete abstract someday it’s representational. Yes I’m very much inclined towards patterns. Patterns of lines in our body, patterns woven on the fabric, patterns on cracked wall, patterns of lines in a leaf, there’s so much pattern.
Most of the time I don’t.
CBN : Can you mention a little about the exhibitions that you have had over the years?
KR : Here is the list of Exhibition I had:
- Group exhibition in Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata 2013
- Group exhibition in Birla, Kolkata 2013
- Annual exhibition of Rabindra Bharati University in ICCR, Kolkata 2013
- Group exhibition ‘Melange’ in Birla, Kolkata 2014
- Group exhibition ‘Kalpasutra’ in ICCR, Kolkata 2014
- Exhibition by Kala-Bhavana, in Russian centre of Science and Culture, Kolkata 2014
- Exhibition by ‘Reflection’ art studio, Delhi 2015
CBN: What inspires you? What do you read, listen to, look at, watch, eat, smell…?
KR: When I see co-artist creating and practising consistently and honestly motivates me. In an art language, I read the forms and movement of lines, I listen to colours applied on the surface, patterns evolving exploding and textures on the surface… tools can be way to express if understood well.
CBN: What else would you do if you weren’t an artist (or what do you do when you aren’t making art)?
KR : I don’t know.
CBN: What is your definition of success? Do you consider yourself artistic/creative?
KR: I read and heard on individual’s definition of success, but when the question is asked on me, to be honest I don’t know how to define what success is. Why do you ask me?
Do I consider myself artistic/creative, I’m not sure how to respond to this question, yes I am an artist but I’m not always artistic and creative.
CBN: What is your biggest challenge as an artist? What excites you about the future?
KR: To break away my consciousness.
To meet people from different parts of the world and explore their ideas culture tradition and have a collaborative exhibition
CBN: What are you working on at the moment?
KR : I’m working on developing the pattern work and composition of a space.
CBN: Can you tell me of any printmakers representing the arts from Arunachal Pradesh or NE Region?
KR : Pempa Gyatso Lepcha (Sikkim), Bhaskar Gohain (Assam), Balaiyamon (Meghalaya), Mark Jakrikra (Meghalaya) there’s more to the list; from Arunachal as of now it is only me.
CBN: Why should someone from you State opt and learn printmaking techniques?
KR: Printmaking technique is rich in medium and process to explore. It’s texture and outcome is very unique on its own, but above all it all depends on the artist how he/she explores the medium with thorough understanding. Artists like Chittoprasad, Haren Das, Zarina Hashmi etc we can see how they have explored the mediums. one of the beauty about Printmaking, it can bring out tremendous texture that texture itself becomes an image to speak for.
CBN: Where online or in the flesh can we see more of your work?
KR : Will be having an exhibition in the month of November 2017, there I’ll display some of my artwork. I don’t share or upload my artworks on social network.
CBN: Recently you bagged the Young Talented Artistes Award, how do you feel about it?
KR: I feel so Blessed. I am deeply honoured and overwhelmed with such an award, such appreciation and platform was never expected.
CBN: What word of advice did the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh and Deputy Chief Minister give you during the award ceremony?
KR: To continue creating and not shifting away from the field of Art. To grow and explore more.
CBN: what does this two arts depict? Tell something about this two arts.
KR: My artworks are inspired by nature and day to day life. Both the works are very different in its approach, one is very personal (Title-Patience) and the other is common (Composition). Composition plays a very important role in my work. The work “Patience” is a composition of a tree. Nature of a tree and its strength has inspired me to create such a piece; the whole branch has been composed with fine line drawing meticulously. I purposely composed the whole image in black and white not making it too vibrant but rather sober and calm and not to exaggerate. It is important also to understand with what medium I will compose the artwork. So that one does not dominate the other. The work “Composition” has been printed out through relief print process, the surface to engrave all the textures and shades I used floor mat and wood block. As the title itself describes it’s all about composing an image inspired of what I see in day to day life. Studying in Kolkata and staying with my aunt and uncle such scenes are common in Arunachal but not in city like Kolkata which encouraged me to draw and compose in such a way that the artist and the viewers both are engaged into it. I always enjoy when the viewers dwell into an artwork and bring up a discussion or at least push themselves to think and question.
CBN: Thank you for finding time to answer these questions. I have one last question: what advice would you give to a young person who decides to choose the path of printmaking?
KR : Every medium has its own language. Don’t be confined to the specialisation that you pursue have the desire to experience and explore more. Medium is important, but ideas are the one that give/bring meaning to medium based artwork.