His life journey is as colourful as any of his creations. Hailing from Dhenkanal in Odisha, Prasant Kumar Barik became interested in art from the age of seven, a passion which landed him in trouble in school. "I would sit on the last bench in school and draw in my notebooks. I kept getting punished by the teachers for that".
But that didn't deter the artist in him. "At home, I would make small figurines from the dough my mother used to make for dinner or draw in my books again. After I completed my tenth standard, I wanted to pursue Fine Arts but there was no support from my family and relatives. I gave in to their demands and went for PUC half-heartedly. After that, even though my parents wanted me to go for engineering, I applied to an arts college. Unfortunately, admissions had closed by then. So I came back and joined a regular graduation course," he says.
They say persistence is the key to success and Prasant is an embodiment of this thought. " I never gave up on following my dreams. During my second year of graduation, I went for the entrance exam in that arts college and emerged as the first rank holder. Without informing my parents, I left my graduation course in between and joined this instead. After an entire year, when they finally came to know, they were furious and disowned me. Then I started taking tuitions to pay for my college fees."
Now Prasant has a Master's degree in Art, is the HOD of the art department in EuroSchool, has held numerous exhibitions in India and abroad and has his paintings displayed in places across the globe, like Dubai, USA and South Africa. "After I started winning awards and received recognition, my parents realised that the path I had chosen was right for me. Now they are quite encouraging. My wife is also very supportive," he adds.
For someone so passionate about art, it is no wonder that Prasant has a hobby which involves dealing with the lesser known side of this field. "I kept seeing a huge amount of paper getting wasted every day, whether it is the newspaper that you throw away after reading or the chart paper that goes waste after a crafts class in school."
Now his house and art studio sport wall murals, hanging paintings and other craft work made from waste paper. Nature is his favourite muse and most of his works involve animals, singing birds or fluttering butterflies.
"Once I even made a life-sized elephant head using newspaper, cardboard and paint. People actually thought it was a sculpture," he says with a laugh.
(Prasant can be contacted on 8088923038)