The works of Pune-based artist Swaroop Biswas look at human relationships from a new perspective

Art has effectively served as a tool to convey human conditions either at a collective or an individual level. This forms the theme of Pune-based artist Swaroop Biswas, whose works, titled “Perspective”, are on show at Focus Art Gallery.

Perspective, a tool developed during the Renaissance to construct the third dimension of space, has been used by the artist to express himself, and is his chief protagonist. The idea of engaging with perspective in the form of foreshortening, particularly looking from above, came to him while he watched a flautist playing. The flautist unknowingly had a quiet listener in the form of a spider above his bald head. This set Biswas thinking about how to project the view from the top.

Based on experiences

Every canvas tells a story. The narrative is based on human relationships — filial, marital, social conditioning that makes individuals put on a mask, loneliness that comes with a busy work schedule or advancing age. These narratives are based on Biswas' experiences. His sensitive response to his social and cultural environment is visualised through an artistic vocabulary that in its simplicity imparts power to his expressions.

Some of the works are very poignant — for instance, the matriarch examining a flower with its concealed eroticism could imply a lack of fulfilment what with shouldering family responsibilities or the painting of a young couple at a café titled “One of those days”. The vase of succulent, yellow-petalled flowers gestures to a marital relationship which is lacking, as the man is portrayed busy on his cellphone while the woman's attitude seems to say, ‘Oh! his never-ending conversations!' In addition, Biswas uses the floor as a metaphor to imply changes integral to life and hence has the square tiles rendered with human silhouettes and profiles that make them enigmatic. The painted expressions are evocative and simple without resorting to unnecessary detail.

He is meticulous in his choice of imagery, which enhances the narrative power of his composition, attracting the viewer to a closer scrutiny of his works. The inherent enigma of foreshortened forms as seen from above and social conditioning represented through the symbolic mask are conventions Biswas has extended from his experiences as a theatre actor. The idea of enacting a character had to be imaged, and the artist in his paintings uses imagery as a tool to create characters as they are found on the stage of life. His compressed foreshortening, masks and floor tiles are imbued with emotions that convey different sentiments.

In addition to paintings, he has extended his ideas in relief sculpture made out of fibreglass. His realistic visual language leaves nothing to be desired, and his colours are equally suited to work in juxtaposition with his concept. Bengal-born and Lucknow-educated Biswas has been an itinerant, now settled in Pune.

The exhibition is on at Focus Art Gallery till December 13.