21st Sep 2009 - 10th Oct 2009

Subliminal Depths


Subliminal Depths

These works of eight artists scrutinize the living reality, however, direct and different positions of art confront the viewer in an overwhelming and dizzying fashion. How does one treat or look at the disparate genre that is produced? Treats, that is to say transforms, exchanges, trades, negotiates, and leaves nothing of the pre-established classifications intact and play all the meanings- gender, sexual, grammatical and visual. The novelty of these exciting and powerful artists in this show are born precisely of the articulation which considers them together, and the triple practice conjugating questions of various orders are a treat to watch them work in this perspective which gives a specific turn to the problematic in so far as it is in-dissociable from those beyond art. The images or the visual texts that mediate through our own experience we jealously guard and with skills we guard our symptoms.
It’s high time to realize that we will no more be restricted by debased modernism and redefine the definition, of realism, abstraction and cultural representation. These works also reveal that one of the important problems facing non-centrist international culture in all parts of the world, is the need to come to terms with essentialist thinking in order to create new concepts of cultural construction.

Aboo Pookode’s oil on canvas never gives itself away as an external sign - rich in privacy and inwardness. When the painting is not before us the recall sensations stay with us; the interaction between repetition and recollection has already become a part of the memory. What stays in the memory is not so much the repetitive nature of the surface but the sensations one had of it; large areas of a flat delineation of pigment act as a catalyst to the simplification of techniques to a form of surreal. One strays into them as if in half remembrance and unanchored.  Instead of strands, one holds on to the textures in a vast middle of broken vectors; the substance of a wakeful dream materializing image and reality, dream and component made by teasing paint and pigment beguiling the viewer into a seemingly no-win game of illusion and recognition of many beginnings with no end.

As Ashish Swami’s painting evolves, a major and a minor area of concentration usually start to play off one another. The linear elements run back and forth between these two masses, and occasionally establish distant satellite areas at the end of their sweep. Despite his direct address and immediacy of marking, however Swami creates a seductive, and sometimes luscious, atmospheric depth that draws the viewer in. In his accumulating, linear density, forms emerge and dissolve in mist, light and dynamism that constitute an internal landscape. The search is spontaneous and pours forth a feeling delivering the pleasures of traditional gestures in a personal or expressive idiom and at the same time transforms figurative markers that end a sentence into visual experiences, which is particularly his genius.

Vilas Bhad’s entire oeuvre, including his oils on canvas and watercolours on paper, replenishes the tension between the signifying modes that give birth to a most passionate expression. He offers us a testimony on  the ways  in which visual texts are seized with mirth and resemblance, ultimately determining the physiques of his works. Vilas seems to have the capacity to shake off stringency and oscillate to the other pole of sensibility, taking an outright and unabashed delight in the physicality of his language and his unbridled capacity for pure and unstable beauty. He executes a celebratory style while igniting a vision in responding to graze and blur,  and stripping and studding off textures across the surface. As a result of his unique technique, we are able to share the manifested ecstasy of the painter.


In Sanjay Sharma’s work along with modernist techniques, he foregrounds other devices to celebrate the surface, illuminating, inexorably bringing to life, tending a surface he fears might dull. His ability to conjure up experiences through colour and through the shape and weight of lines and rhythms of composition, are eloquent. One senses a working out of pictorial conventions, of attitudes and of free associations that swivel between dream and reality. The works have a nervous, inchoate narrative quality, as figures, both wraith like and robust, take on symbolic weight as they get filtered through liquid swells and flows of translucent colours. The images here are replete with images retrieved from the times and spaces he has navigated inwardly and intensely with an indiscriminate abandon and pace.

In Veena Chitrakar’s recent acrylics on canvas, a critical reading of her drawings and paintings might lead one to define them being as expressionistic, figurative markers, seemingly innocuous portrayals of still-life and at times a mingling of both on a single canvas.  These are not to be viewed simplistically as work of an incurable romanticist that yields several possibilities, in turn giving rise to polemical queries that demand a sort of substantiation.  The complex manipulation of space in her works- large areas of a flat delineation of pigment act as a catalyst to the simplification of techniques to a form of abstraction.   The application of colour also reveals distinct purposes, where paint body produces a kind of textual differentiation enumerating various forms and corresponding traditions, a definite silhouette which encompasses formal structures.  For another, Chitrakar’s studies reveal a kind of involvement that touches luscious depths of the mind, the paint body follows the tone, shadow set against deeper shadow, and she plots the position of objects around the architectural markers, marking the points where their forms reflect, intersect or overlap, the frame within the frame diverges instead of converging.

The idea of Rahul Wagh’s canvases or acrylics on board has the ability of a consummate craftsman. His fields of glowing colours express in elliptical terms of the wavering between transcendence and materiality, joy and somberness, serenity and an inner spirituality, which characterizes our slouch towards a fresh cultural discourse. It is as though Rahul sets out to escape the confines of everyday reality.  The colours of the intermediate zone do not suggest the etherealized ambience of ecstatic release; they are imbued with an almost material weight and beauty and solipsism, expressionistic markers assume a fluidity that take on a new form, another illuminating areas strokes descend into a light drizzle, a kind of lunar aesthetics grow on the viewer as our own experience abides in another pictorial space- distinctly luminescent, stronger symbols filling the space; they seem to suggest an earlier preoccupation with his fundamentally elegiac temperament. It becomes interesting at this point to notice how these introspective elements interact with the existing play with form and the resultant stylistics.

A shifting weave of memory, her gaze is intimate and penetrating. Painting surface is an important attribute in ’Gauri’s work which is achieved through intricate patterning and layering of the ground. The patterning of separate areas sets off these spaces, giving each its own depth and providing body to the visual text. Her images stem from their environment. These come to her by way of revelations - the specific context in which a woman would limit and define her significance. Considered or hieratic, almost arresting each has its own story to tell; one face seems shadowed with reverie. She animates her portraits with varied layers of slips and glazes. She reclaims these through trace and gesture, emblem and allusion that form a subterranean assembly.

Irony, this time of the verbal kind, is also a tactic adopted by Kalipada Purkait in his depiction through his pencil and charcoal drawings on paper apart from his acrylics and oils on canvas. His works explore a contrast between two kinds of private pursuits. At the same time he rejects any pictorial superficiality and constructs where the existential meets the topical. The objects depicted by Purkait seem to cry out for captions and forces us to consider the materiality of the object and its metaphorical associations. He consciously lives in his times and wishes to engage with historical events rather than withdraw from them.  He depicts them with extreme sensitivity in oils and acrylics, also through his drawings and accentuates to the level of photographic realism. His works are like journals that rally between public and private meanings. 

 In the communication of both the existential and the common, creativity remains a primary vehicle due chiefly to its protean, questioning qualities. If the paintings here, as they speak beyond the frame, point us in this direction, we could do worse than look afresh at enquiries of the aesthetic.

Nanak Ganguly.
September, 2009.




Aboo Pookode

Ashish Swami


Kalipada Purkait

Sanjay Sharma

Rahul Wagh

Veena Chitrakar

Vilas Bhad