Since childhood, Odisha-based painter Manas Ranjan Panda has expressed himself through his paintings. A resident of Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi, Manas has always been inclined towards portraying nature, spiritual and tribal life on canvas. The young artist’s portraits and landscapes speak volumes about his grasp over the medium. And that’s not all. He also excels in designing rangolis.
Son of Santosh and Minakumari Panda, Manas’ penchant for painting started during his school days. “My earliest memories are of sketching photographs that were printed in my school books. Gradually, it became a habit. My mother has been my biggest inspiration. She taught me the basics and how to get myriad hues from a limited number of colours,” recalls the artist.
Minakumari spotted the spark in her son at a tender age. He could hardly resist himself every time he came across a set of crayons. He participated in a number of art competitions during his school days and tasted success at an early age. “As a child, I won my first award for painting a tribal village on a single canvas. It was a huge motivation for me,” says Manas.
Since then, he has come a long way. Besides painting, he has also perfected the art of designing rangolis. “My mother is a pro in designing rangolis and I learnt the basics from her. Rigorous practice enabled me to perfect the art,” says Manas, who also works as an art faculty at a private school in Bhawanipatna.
Later, Manas started designing rangolis portraying eminent personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi, Subash Chandra Bose and Swami Vivekananda, which further escalated his popularity. “I have participated in a number of rangoli competitions across the country and won many. Once I made a rangoli of a few tribal women at a tribal exhibition in Bhubaneswar. My rangolis of Mother Teresa and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam at Rahagiri, Bhubaneswar, made in 2016 were much appreciated,” says the 29-year-old painter.
A graduate of Dhauli College of Art, Bhubaneswar, Manas’ paintings are a celebration of life. His use of vibrant colours and bold strokes bring the canvas alive. His biggest strength lies in making the canvas look bright and colourful though he uses minimum colours.
Manas specialises in telling stories of tribal life on canvas. “My paintings on tribal life are surreal. At the same time, I have always tried to depict human emotions through my works,” he says. His works have not only earned him appreciation but have also fetched him several awards.
Manas says that he loves exploring new places, which helps him grow as an artist. “If you travel across the state, you can capture new images in your mind and then depict them on canvas,” he says.
Manas, who writes poetry and loves singing, has also participated in a large number of painting workshops across India, including the National Art Workshop at Mumbai, National Art Workshop at Kurukshetra, All India Tribal Festival and Art Workshop and Kalahandi Utsav at Dharmagarh. “I get to learn a lot of new things by attending these workshops, which has helped me grow as an artist,” he says.
Today, Manas is a star in his own right. “I try to depict how to lead a simple life in this materialistic world through my works. Many artists from Odisha move to other states with expectations of earning more. I plan to start an art village in our state where people would be trained in different art forms. It will help Odia artistes compete at the international level and, at the same time, no artist from the state would feel the need to shift base to earn a livelihood.”