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CHINTAN UPADHYAY

 

Chintan Upadhyay’s paintings reflects his involvement with the idea of hybridisation, with clone creation, and so taking the matter to its logical conclusion, conversion of not only the thinking, but in actuality, the human beings themselves into automatons.

Hence, look at his ‘Smart Alec’ series of paintings. On a first cursory glance, little round children is what we see.  But the glazed look in their eyes, the exact replication of one with the other, adds a frightening dimension to them.  And then, their skin – or is it their clothing, or a tattoo, or an inner illumination bursting through them – Rajasthani miniatures in all their intricacy of detail, with their sexuality and their physicality all intact.

Is his work a proclamation of the dying away of man and his replacement with clonic creations?  Of the evaporation of man’s sexuality, of his  reproductive abilities, and in its place the establishment of the rule of automation?  Or is there, hidden within his statement, within the hard metallic bodies of pseudo- children, a lingering desire that mankind will reassert itself?  For there is a touch of that visible,  inspite of his protestation to the contrary.

JUSTIN PONMANY

 

Justin Ponmany, a citizen of Bombay is caught up in the maelstrom that is the city. It is from this, its energy, its transitory kaleidoscopic nature, that he draws his inspiration. His purposeful use of cheap, low-tech synthetic material, juxtaposed with a lyrical sense of a moment’s pause, a reflective second, in the hustle and bustle of an ever moving, seldom caring city, creates the paradox in which he seems to revel – and from which he draws his strength. The plasticity of the city is his base – from it he derives the plasticity of a conditioned mind. This is the metaphor on which he builds.

The hologrammatic style he usesq, the tinsel-like effect with its different shades when viewed from different angles – infact, the cinematic effect it creates, seem to be the central, moving theme on which he builds his creations. For he has moved away from the traditional methodology of painting  to join a post-modern movement. He is prepared to use any medium, any device or artifice to create the visual effect that he so desires.  And in the process the iconoclastic within him takes control to shake the foundation in our perhaps, pre-set notion of art and its presentation and meaning.

BOSE KRISHNAMACHARI

Bose Krishnamachari likes to use difference facets of ‘memory.’  He looks at it – his own memory as well as that of others, puts it at a distance and then examines it.  Turns it and twists it, puts his own slant to it and produces another work of his art. 

Presently, his theme is ‘Stretched Bodies.’ What is this body he stretches?  Is it the body of paint as it loses its solidity, loses its intensity of colour, becomes different streaks resembling, but not actually, being what it started off as – so as to test these very elements of colour, form and technique to their maximum. Or is it the human body, going into the same metamorphosis?  Or perhaps the human mind, stretched, distorted, overloaded with separate pressures that pull and push to divide.  Or the city in which we live – one city with many diverse and conflicting aspects.  And from our memory, different feelings of touch and love and hate- as well as fear and a sense of a forever moving city which is still at home.

So, there can be no ‘fixed centre’ for everything is fluid.  Our appreciation of the work, our perception
changes as different ‘memories’ within us are stirred as are those of the artist, who in the process of
creation, has also enlarged the field of his work as well as having delved deeper within himself to give
new dimensions and fresh additions to his initial statement.

CHANDRA BHATTACHARJEE

Look at Chandra Bhattacharjee’s art and you see dark, brooding figures - generally men - in whom he has invested what appears to be the eternal theme of his work.  Man, or if you like, humankind – enclosed, maybe stifled by prisons, sometimes of our own making.  Prison bars, or as in the presentation in this show – liquid iron or ferric ooze of those very bars, which has found its way into our blood, our soul.  And in so doing, is now no longer just our external enclosure, but part of our daily living – limiting us our thoughts, our vision, grounding our fancy and taking away from us the ability to fly, to soar into the cyberspace that should be all mankind’s territory.

This darkness of his, he leavens with rays of hope – an escape hatch – it could be a road or falling leaves, with the promise of new ones to come; a window with a view of the world outside our self constructed prisons – but is it really the world or is it his dream, his vision of what lies beyond the oppression of his ‘jail.’  And will the figure, still unmoving, be able to push away the inertia clinging to him?  He asks the question.  We have to look for answers within ourselves.

SAJAL SARKAR

Sajal Sarkar’s work seems to be an analysis of the psyche, mutilated as it is, by the shorthand of modern living, the shallow interface of man with humanity and the environment.  But, he uses not words but pictures.   Pictures of himself, drawn and dissected.

He has said, that he admits to an element of narcissism.  That, inspite of some hesitation in baring his body, not only for his own inspection, but that of the world.  But is it his body he is baring, or is it his bruised and perhaps warped spirit.  Are the clothes he sheds, those of convention, which hide his wounds and the scars of living?

His hand is sure, the graphics precise.  He uses many devices to further enliven his initial statement.  Visually his work is most satisfying, but the courage in using himself as a body to be introspected and analysed and then to be, not only the object, but also be the wielder of the scalpel, plus if you add a third dimension, of playing the judge, is most exciting.  For he presents the black and the white, the negative and positive force boldly.  But the humanity is in the intricate and delicate finish to all his works.

PARTHA SHAW

From a background which includes a famous artist father, to Santineketan, a school of singular tradition of painting, Partha Shaw has wrestled to inculcate this legacy in his own work and yet grow – neither away nor above – but separate enough to add to his inheritance.

He attempts to incorporate traditional Indian miniature art with contemporary modern art.  There is a loneliness about his work – be it the architectural remains of a once grand Calcutta – symbol of an age gone by but not replaced, at least not as yet, by a new uprising.  His landscapes are contemporary using graphic qualities to develop on his theme.

In this exhibition, we see works over-layered with stylised scripts.   Is it a new awakening, infact a rebirth in his methods and his vision?  For what are scripts except a means of using language?  And what is language except a means of expressing thoughts and ideas.  So is this the cracking of an eggshell? Is something new about to emerge? We must wait and see.

SACHIN KARNE

Sachin Karne cannot, or should one say, will not, paint just to create a canvas, visually attractive and artistically mature.  In every such canvas he adds a part of himself, his feelings, his central theme of cause and its effect.  It is there – a statement that is ‘in your face’ - and because he does not over-layer his own hurt, his personal disturbance at the calamities the world presents with such regular intervals, one wonders whether he will not burn away in the fires of his canvasses.   But his self regeneration, or is it a rebirth, comes about with each new painting, stronger and more assured.  It seems to nourish his strength and desire to stretch himself further and do more. 


In his works, his fine artistic sense, his juxtapositioning of the real with the fictive, meld together over and over again and each time, the artist himself seems to come to a completion, only to be born again – renewed.  His works are there for us to see, it is also there for us to perceive the vision behind them.  For when we do, we come away, both exhausted by his demands on us, and also by the feelings of invigoration that flow through us with the business of wrestling with his statements

 

S. HARSHAVARDHANA

To write about S. Harshavardhana is not just to write about the biochemist prodigal returning to the world of his father’s art. Or about the strong leftist definition of his family. It cannot be, not only because his work is non-figurative, perhaps purposely so, but because it makes no statement - it is  infact  introspective.   Introspective, not in the sense of evolving internally, of convoluted inner clashes of ideas and ideologies, but in an attempt to hide what he really means behind veils of his personal privacy. Perhaps then, in the veils themselves, lies what the man is talking about.

For behind it all, if you look hard enough, and if you can sufficiently let your imagination run riot,  there is a landscape. But you can barely see it. You see instead fractured prisms, broken glass, a light veil of gossamer, clashing geometry – which itself is a paradox, for geometry by definition has form  and a symmetry of natural design. What is this veil then? Is he telling us that it is our world, our asymmetric  views that distort or hide what should be simple to see?  Or is it the clashing of different ideas, opposing views within himself that find catharsis in his works.  For, while you search for a meaning, he has left you with a canvas, both spatially and intellectually challenging. And he has left you no hint of what it is. Because, if his statement gets a body, then the different conceptions and perceptions, both his and ours are lost, our imagination stultified, our intellectual stimulus circumscribed.

RIYAS KOMU

Riyas Komu, artist and sculptor, has taken upon himself to show the disconnect in the world he knows well – Bombay. He takes random photographs, emotions, machinery, construction and labour - and puts them into the mixed pot of a milieu that is Bombay, and then throws it in our face.  Man has become machine –  soulless, without value except in his role of producer of goods.  Machine, on the other hand has evolved  a life of its own, created its own energy. All else is, a cry in the wilderness - emotions, feelings, humanity do not matter.  Destiny is no longer evident, mankind only has a destination - villages to cities,  slums to workplaces - there is no arrival, just  a continuation of a lost movement.  And he does this with sufficient style and sufficient intensity and energy to force us to notice him and his statement.

His portraits of the ordinary worker – dehumanised in the world of the city – have a dogged insistence of their right to exist, to be alive, to have feelings and hopes and ambitions – but you also see a sad acceptance of their ultimate fate – unnoticed cogs in the machine of what was once life.