Shankardeva artwork by russian artist vladimir trochin

Guwahati: For painter, sculptor and theatre artist Vladimir Trochin, portraying the great Assamese saint Shankardeva in his artwork is a labour of love and affection evolved out of his understanding of Assam.

That the saint has had a profound impact on Trochin is vivid from his artwork.

Fifty-four-year-old Vladimir Trochin from Moscow is among the few visitors to the state who have gone deeper into the ethos of Assam to take from it the essence of his artwork – the very heart of Assamese culture and religious tradition, much of which is based on Shankardeva’s teachings and reforms.

Unlike other foreign visitors or scholars, Vladimir’s interest in Assam comes from his connection to the state through his younger sibling Victor Trochin, who is married to Mitali Goswami of Guwahati and has been residing in the city for over 20 years with their three children.

A little background into this Russian–Indian relationship explains how the Trochins have taken interest in the Vaishnavite culture. It stems from Victor’s father-in-law late Sattradhikar Bhadra Krishna Goswami, a socio-cultural envoy of the state known for his distinguished pursuit of Sattriya art, culture and Assamese literature. His relentless effort towards uplifting and preservation of Sattras of Assam is much revered in the state.

In his various paintings of the great saint, this influence from the Goswami family is worth marking and Vladimir does justice by ardently exploring the religious and spiritual dimensions of Shakardeva’s teachings.

For Vladimir, Shankardeva is a subject matter of great interest, as one who has shaped the understanding of religious beliefs of millions in the state and whose influence transcends all borders.

Art, as a matter of fact, does transcend all borders, and Vladimir as a true artist must find extraordinary creation in every subject matter he encounters. Shankardeva, being an extraordinary person, deserves the attention of the artists.

“I was inspired to depict the paintings from my sister in law’s father sattradhikar Bhadra Krishna Goswami,” he said.

The artist has portrayed Shankardeva in different forms – his childhood (bull fights to fishing Brahmaputra dolphins), as a spiritual guru an epitome of Vaishnavism and Sattriya culture and with his disciples laying the foundation of Assamese Sattras. What is worth mentioning is the inscription of Assamese language in one of his paintings.

Vladimir has added to his guild, this rare collection from Assam, through which he has tried to represent the interior religious and cultural significance.

“Shankardeva is the person who brought about a change in Assamese culture, but very less is published about him,” he said.

“Shankardeva is a genius and an extraordinary person. He has excelled in many fields. He has done lot of changes in literature. He has done a lot of studies and brought a change in culture. He brought social and intellectual development. He also brought in absolute revolution in religious and spiritual life of Assamese people, established Sattras. Sattras became the base for learning and developing skills of the people,” he added.

Having graduated in his five year degree course from Ukraine’s Odessa Theatre and Art School, Vladimir is a renowned sculptor, illustrator and theatre artist.

Vladimir’s artworks include paintings and sculptures of private collections from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Estonia, Poland, Germany, Austria and Uzbekistan.

His artwork also affirms his pledge for conservation. Among his numerous works, a striking red African elephant at an exhibition in Moscow, stood as a symbol for wildlife conservation. The painting portrays the animal emerging from fire, signifying the strength and courage to move out of its endangered status.

The spectacular exhibit was complemented by a message written by elephant scientist Surendra Varma and Aksha Chowdhary, researchers from Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF), Bangalore, which helped in amplifying the voice of elephants even in Russia, where there are no elephants.

In 2017, he stayed for a month in Assam during which period he made extensive observation and study about the cultures and traditions here. As they say, artists are like thirsty travelers. His visit to Assam has intensified his thirst for more of the state and the unexplored. Vladimir pledges to visit the sattras again.

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