Sameeran Dhar shares his views on call centres, relationships and technology through his paintings and poetry

Sameeran Dhar worked at a call centre for four to five months in 2006. The short stint was enough for him to observe young men and women caught in claustrophobic work atmosphere. “Relationships took a beating as men and women let technology rule their lives,” he says. Much later, he gave form to his observations through a series of paintings, interspersed with poetry.

Now on display at Iconart gallery, Sameeran’s collection of paintings titled ‘Signature’, in mixed media, tempera on paper and acrylic on canvas, take us into call centre office spaces where young women cannot do without headphones and stay glued to their office chairs for long hours. He keeps the portraits of people in earthy tones but highlights the office chairs in bright blues as if to ascertain the dominance of the workspace. There are moments of silence and introspection shown in the series titled ‘Silence’. “I deliberately cut off the face of the subject to show their state of mind,” says the artist.

Sameeran uses natural pigments such as charcoal, ink and acrylic and attributes the compositional aspects of the paintings to his exposure to techniques of the printing press, photography and literature.

The eyes of the subject or the face are sometimes immaterial. A red strip hides the eyes of a young woman in a painting; in other works, the subjects are turned away from the frame, immersed in their world. Random scribbles of poetry about relationships, recurring motifs of office chairs, identity cards, mobile phones, chargers create the world these subjects live in.

Curiously, in some paintings, Sameeran mentions the time — 5.30 a.m., 2.30 a.m. and so on. “The time works two ways — the time when I gave shape to my viewpoints and the time call centre workers spend at work,” says Sameeran. Most paintings are centered on women. “Women have always been at the receiving end of society. I used to hear incidents of women employed in call centres being targeted in auto rickshaws and cabs because of their untimely work hours. Somewhere, we have let down our women,” adds Sameeran.

Auto rickshaws coloured yellow and black, and trees, are other recurrent motifs in his work. “I spent two years in Hyderabad, between 2007 and 2009, during which time I explored the city in auto rickshaws. These motifs are my memories of the city,” he says.

What: Signature, an exhibition of paintings and poetry by Samiran Dhar

Where: Iconart Gallery, Road no. 12, Banjara Hills

When: Till May 17