Subir Dey has colourful dreams — painted in bright natural colours and gradient shades — dripping into the real world. Subir's art has many elements, arranged to allow the passerby to come to their own conclusions about its meaning and position.

Natural colours

The backdrop is mostly in squares and rectangle blocks of yellows, red, blues, greys and pinks, with hazy, mustard silhouettes, block-prints, birds, dogs, flowers, and all those things that we've now forgotten. Aptly, the theme of the exhibition is nostalgia.

“I love working with natural colours,” says this Bengali artist. “They're so vibrant and bright. This show is about things I saw as a child and are no longer there.”

There is the graceful and endearing peacock standing on red and green swirls, that forces you to look at the a water-painted Taj Mahal, wrapped by words and gazed upon, from either side, by the faceless forms of a man and a woman. This painting is titled ‘love'.

There are others too, with birds looking at towering colonial buildings, vintage flower-shaped lights, Pegasus watching over a young maiden and a young prince on horseback, heading out to war.

While most of the words in the paintings are from the Bhagavad Gita, there are a few in English too, telling their own stories of the art.

Vivid descriptions

The paintings vary in their depictions of Indian heritage and culture — from vivid descriptions of Mughal royalty sitting in diwans and flanked by servants with misty forms of domes and minarets in the background to the more recent past with its gramophones, telephones, magic lamps, cars and transistors.

While historical subjects are adorned by brighter shades of pink and red, those that have disappeared recently loom large in ageing yellow and mouldy green canvasses, the human elements beside them becoming small and incidental.

“That's me,” points out Subir, “I've seen these cars, typewriters and everything else, and wonder why they're not in use anymore.”

The small human beings, bald and sporting loose shorts, appear contemplative.

There is, of course, the mix of the old and the new too, with magic lamps sprouting a computer mouse, a transistor attached to a music player and a car with helicopter wings.

An unusual blend

“If you look at these objects, they're the exact opposite of something as contemporary as a mouse. They're very old and outdated. I'm trying to show the chemistry between the two, the blending of the age-old and the modern,” the 30-year-old artist smiles.

But what makes these 23 paintings surreal and dream-like are the colours than run, trailing away from the white canvasses, disappearing into a multi-hued oblivion.

Subir's travelling exhibition ‘The Bengal Trail', organised by the Calcutta Arts Club, will be on show till November 11 at Vinnyasa Premier Art Galery.

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Arts, Entertainment & EventsMay 14, 2012