what would you do if you came across a stack of paper cups in your office coffee room? chances are you’d fill it up, gulp the coffee, crush the cup and dart right out, onto the next assignment.
we’d probably do the same too.
but that’s not what biswajit das – a young creative director from new delhi, india would do. or at least that’s not what he started doing from the 9th of May 2015.
let’s start from the beginning. biswajit is a young creative director with one of india’s top advertising companies. but like any ‘creative type’ in an advertising company, biswajit started feeling, in his words, “claustrophobic”. it was at this point that his gaze fell upon the styrofoam cups that were stacked up high and wrapped up tight in a plastic sheet and realised that glass offices where exactly the same.
that’s where it all started. we caught up with him and had a brief chat about his paper cup art project titled ‘claustrophobia’.
and yup, you guessed right. it was over coffee.
coq: what was the reason behind using a paper cup as your canvas?
biswajit: cups stacked into another and stifled into a fitted polythene. it wasn’t just what i saw everyday next to the coffee vending machine. it was my state of mind.
these spacious glass offices are great at claustrophobia. from cups till humans.
we were on the same plane. the rock bottom of the cup and me. the only way left to look, was upwards. and as long as our doors are open, we can see the moon from the tiniest of the space.
coq: when did it all start?
biswajit: i befriended the base of the cup and poured everything in it, including colours. it wasn’t easy to paint with almost a straight hanging brush. but the tougher war was with the claustrophobia hanging in the air. both were battled with and won against. and that too on an everyday basis. i was painting one cup base everyday, starting 9th may 2015.
my mood. my muse. my freedom. and a radius of 2 cm was comfortably accommodating all of the above three.
coq: and why? you spoke about claustrophobia. could you explain that a bit more.
biswajit: i sketched for love. then studied it, held its degree, threw a graduation cap, joined it as a full time job, converted it into a salary, a designation, a dissatisfaction.
and then turned back to the love again. by then it wasn’t free. it had turned claustrophobic.
but how can art be diseased? i couldn’t see this simple fact then. because i was busy seeing narrow dark spaces that ran darker. i was busy with suffocation. with claustrophobia that i had converted my art into. perhaps the reason i started sketching into the dark end of the cup. day after day with the day’s feelings in it.
coq: now after doing this for hundreds of days. how has the journey been?
biswajit: my mornings became the base end of a styrofoam cup. like a horizon. like a sunrise in it. like a look forward to. and, over months, by 11 am, i was questioned on my social media for not filling in the day’s cup.
expectations are rewarding. it made me fall in love with discipline. i had sketched more than a leap year’s cup without boredom. and when the artist isn’t bored. even the viewers aren’t.
i had splashed into colours. the tiny cups’ canvas were the miniatures of my happiness. i painted one of them on the wall of my terrace. like a free bird of a free blue sky.
today (28/05/2018) i am 741 cups older from the last of my claustrophobia. it’s not my art project. It’s my healing. natural, like the fashion these days. fluid, like the way art has always been.
and that my dear friends is how you turn a negative into one wonderful, colourful positive.