Musings: Interview With Santanu Nandan Dinda

The ordinary and mundane is made unforgettable in Santanu Dinda’s rendition of nature. His bold representation, only serves to highlight the earthiness and intimacy of the unassuming nature that he finds so fascinating.

In this interview, we learn more about the inspiration behind Santanu’s art, his admiration for folk art practices and his love for nature.


Hello Mr. Dinda, it’s a pleasure to have this conversation with you, tell us more about yourself. 

As a child, art always delighted me. Walking through the streets of Jamshedpur, where I was born, the sculptors and artists making the idol of Godess Durga for the annual Durga Puja Festival intrigued me. I would stand there, for hours, not missing a single opportunity to see the sculptors at work. I would then go home and along with my cousins, would create a smaller version of that idol with no professional training. Although my works were not even close to professional standard, they did attract people and I enjoyed making them. As time went my inclination towards the world of art became more and more intense. I started taking interest in reading books on Renaissance painters like Da Vinci and Rafael. Copying the work of popular artists was my favourite pastime. More often than not, on holidays I would ride my way up to the railway station with a sketchbook and a pen in my Dad’s bicycle. For me, it was the most interesting place where one could spot a variety of people doing a variety of jobs in a variety of clothes. I would sit and sketch the characters that I used to find interesting, which in the long run greatly improved my concept of forms and proportions. At the age of 18, in order to fulfil my desire to draw and paint, I joined the Tagore school of Art & Craft, Jamshedpur where I completed my Diploma in Fine Arts in 6 years and taught for 18 long years. It was indeed my second home. Currently a freelance artist, I live with my wife (who is also an artist), in Gamharia, Jharkhand, India. I have a son who is studying media in Mumbai.

Your paintings are strikingly poignant and personal. Do you approach your art with any particular theme in mind?

My objective has always been to capture the traditional nuances of Indian culture in my paintings. Most of my paintings (if not all), convey a sense of “Indianness”. Exhibiting the unnoticed rustic daily life of an ordinary person in bold lines and colourful themes, I attempt to reflect the true essence of rustic Indian life.

Where do you find inspiration for your art?

Nature & only nature along with its beautiful things like birds, trees & flowers, fishes & above all human beings.

Transformation by Santan Nandan Dinda

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Talk us through your creative process. How long does it take you from the moment you form your idea to the moment you complete it?

It does not take any fixed time to complete my creative process. I do not know where & when it starts. Whenever I see or think of something, I just make several layouts in my sketch book. Then I select the best layout & copy it on a canvas. It takes several days to complete, sometimes 2/3 days or sometimes several weeks depending on the time I get.

Familiarize us with the tools you use to get the desired output; we would also love to have a glimpse at your work station.

I use very simple tools to create a painting like pencil, pen, eraser, marker, brushes, acrylic colours & above all canvas or paper.

Santanu Dinda’s Workstation

How do you manage to divide time between personal projects and commercial work?

I don’t like to do commercial work. All are my personal projects. Yes, I have to manage to divide time between my job as a chemist & as an artist.

Are there any artists whose work has influenced you significantly?

There are many artists who have influenced me very much. Among western artists, there’s Matisse, Picasso, Munch, Miro. I like their paintings & try to get something from their creations. M F Hussain, Bengali artists like Nandlal Bose, Jamini Roy, Abanindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore influenced me very much. I am greatly influenced by the folk artists of India.

Nayeeka by Santanu Nandan Dinda

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Toy Seller by Santanu Dinda

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Are you working on any projects currently? We’d love to know more about your work.

I have some projects on “Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan”. I, along with the school students, want to paint the dirty walls of our area with some good paintings.

What does success mean to you?

I always follow the great saint Swami Vivekananda, who said, “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, and live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success that is way great spiritual giants are produced”.

According to you, what is your greatest work so far?

One of my paintings titled ‘Lady on a Red chair’ is my favorite. This is my tribute to the greatest painter ever-Pablo Picasso.

Lady On A Red Chair by Santanu Nandan Dinda

If there was one person in the entire world you could paint, who would you chose?

Pablo Picasso

What do you think of the current art scene in India? Do you think art is gaining ground as a profession?

Contemporary Indian art is quickly emerging and gaining ground in the global art scene. What started as a movement, some decades back, has now caught the attention of art critics and enthusiasts alike all over the world. There is a strong Indian presence in art galleries, exhibitions and auction houses globally. With the emergence of contemporary Indian art, the Indian cultural scene is headed toward renewal and regeneration. Young and emerging artists from all over the country are experimenting with new styles and forms of art, shedding the clichéd approach and taking a different approach on the contemporary as opposed to the one from the pre-colonial and pre- nationalist era. Contemporary Indian art is a mix of the radical and the provocative, with new artists experimenting with multiple and immersive forms of expression. Many Indian artists have immigrated towards the west and have incorporated new forms of expression in their works, thereby creating artworks with a fine balance of their past in India and their new-found experiences in the west. There is a huge boom in the art market in the sub-continent and this is pretty evident from art galleries and exhibitions mushrooming all across the country. Contemporary art in India moves through different trajectories from those in the west gathering varied trends from all over the country across all regions. The emergence of regional modern art has caught the attention of art critics and historians with great enthusiasm. Yes, painting, applied art, graphics, sculpture, all are gaining ground as a profession.

Do you think music contributes to the artistic process? How does it affect your art?

The environment we experience influences our creative process. When we experience variations in lighting, colors on the walls, different smells, and different types of sounds, they evoke different feelings within us and in turn these sensory experiences invade our creative process. Interestingly enough, many art forms use similar descriptive terms across art disciplines. Music, painting, drama and architecture use terms such as repetition, variety, intensity, rhythm, dialogue, balance, unity and so on. Art & music have an instant connection because they speak and understand each other’s creative language. Whether we are discussing music styles or musical genres such as Indian classical, Western music or visual arts like folk art, Renaissance paintings, installations, and abstract expressionist work, we respect what the other artist is trying to communicate. There are many artists who paint their canvases listening to music. The music orchestrates their brushes and creates beautiful & melodious paintings. I prefer classical & old romantic music.It makes me cool and calm and sets the momentum.

If you could wish for one, and only one superpower, what superpower would you chose?

God, the supreme power

If you could give one piece of advice to budding artists, what would that be?

My suggestion to budding artists:

a. Deep observation.

b. Read good books on old masters.

c.  Try to recreate their work.

Lastly, how has the journey been with Cupick thus far?

It’s wonderful!

Let Them Free by Santanu Dinda

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Visit Santanu on Cupick to check out more of his work.


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