Paresh Maity's paintings and conceptual art draw heavily from the country's heritage

Vibrant splashes of colour greet the viewer upon entering Gallery Sumukha, for the works on the walls are by contemporary Indian art's celebrated colourist Paresh Maity.

An alumnus of the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Kolkata, and the College of Art, New Delhi, Maity is a significant name on the contemporary art scene today. The Bengal-born, Delhi-based artist revels in his heritage and acknowledges drawing his inspirations from the richness of Indian culture, particularly in terms of his colour usage.

The intense blues, greens, yellows and reds are arresting in their blatancy and their simplicity, for rarely do they model form. Rather, they take on the responsibility of providing a pigmented contextualisation for the thick lines that seem to effortlessly generate forms.

The supremacy of colour is an intrinsic factor of his art, for one cannot imagine a Maity canvas bereft of its categorical protagonist. The artist exhibits a compelling mastery over technique and pigments, leading to canvases that seem extemporaneous, and yet totally controlled. His expressive style is confidently graphic, effectively aided by lines laid with bold flourish and strong colour.

Off the beaten path

Having been trained in the academic style of painting and having won numerous awards for his proficiency of skill, he has chosen to move away from the tried and tested to explore the art of his journeys.

What is striking in every artwork is the artist's grasp of various media. The works on display include an installation, sculpture with found objects, mixed media, water colours, oil paintings and drawings.

While he begins each work in an abstract fashion, his leaning towards a readily perceptible world takes him towards the depiction of landscapes and figuration.

The landscapes are directly from Nature in their being referenced to specific places, such as in ‘Hill Station' where the congested urbanscape that has become the modern-day hill retreat in India is depicted on a large-format six-ft square canvas. This is cleverly juxtaposed by a two-ft by two-ft canvas titled ‘Mystic City' providing contrast in both scale and hue. ‘The Ghats' in red, yellow and blue with black lines is a stunning work of art where so little says so much. The power of colour and minimal line has never been more marked.

Fascinating work

His installation titled ‘Journey' proves that Maity's oeuvre is not restricted to figuration, but extends to conceptual art as well. Fibreglass, light and bronze have been employed to create a fascinating installation that draws one nearer, only to note that the foregrounded hurricane lanterns of yesteryear have been blackened on the front thereby reflecting light on to the lush gold of the concave ovoid beyond.

Another aspect of his creativity is revealed in his ‘Ants', which are, in fact, a portion of his famed work ‘Procession' where motorcycle parts are recycled and reused to create gigantic ant forms. Both ‘Journey' and ‘Ants' are among his most famous works — ones that have been exhibited at numerous international venues, but are part of the artist's personal collection and not for sale.

On the other hand, all the paintings on display are recent works, including his ‘Faces of Life' series where angular planar faces emerge out of iridescent tones. Also a treat are his small format drawings in black and white, which provide a conspicuous contrast to the brilliant colours of his canvases.

(Paresh Maity's works are on show until March 31 at Gallery Sumukha, 187, St. Mary's Road, Alwarpet)

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