‘Surreal Secrets' features eight artists who explore the realm beyond reality

Contemporary art is beautiful and attractive, and provocative and dynamic. There are no thematic constraints for the artist and the canvas of life offers diverse opportunities. Yet, there are artists who produce art that goes beyond reality and into surreality. It is precisely this that eight artists have narrated in ‘Surreal Secrets', on at Artworld.

The decorative character of the works links Sam Adaikalasamy, Moumita Shaw, Asma Menon, Uma Krishnamurthy, Alphonso Doss, Debasish Sarkar, Diptish Ghosh Dastidar and Chanchal Mukherjee. What marks the show are kaleidoscopic colours, and the ornamental rhythm of line, shape and technique.

‘Surreal Secrets' is not about dreams and the subconscious as understood in the modernist movement of Surrealism — the surreality here concerns the artists' talent for constructing myths mediated through symbols and metaphors (Alphonso, Asma and Debasish), technique (Adaikalasamy), iconographic tradition— both pictorial and religious (Diptish and Moumita respectively), decorative play (Uma) and fragmentation (Chanchal).

Adaikalasamy's works foreground intrigue and enigma. This is obtained partially through his technique and partially through his subject, which gestalts to project hybrid creatures and forms. The numerous subjects are framed as a series of small format paintings, or rather collaged within a larger frame. This leads the spectator to numerous other images, setting him on a trail of linking images with memory.

Alphonso offers us enigmatic images using his bold technique and short choppy strokes. His works compel the viewer to decode his mysterious iconography through symbols such as a key, bird, lamp, etc.

Debasish's approach is akin to a photographer shooting close-ups. For instance, his works zoom in on a car window on which are reflected monkeys frolicking on a tree.

The iconic image of Bodhisattava, appropriated from mural tradition by Diptish, is represented in varying perspectives. The fragmentation of forms in Moumita's works is characteristic of the post-modern approach of reality as one which is not fixed or determined. Asma's bold and colourful mixed media work enables her to construct her mythic reality of various forms.

Mukherjee's themes are drawn from his immediate environment. The subject matter, in this instance, is fragmented and lost in swathing layers and strokes of paint, yet partially emerging from it. The enigma of emergence is captivating as it is powerful.

Uma's works are decorative, structured and playfully imaginative. However, they hardly connect with the others. The small-size canvases make her works ineffective, and they lose out on the power of visuality.

The exhibition is on at Artworld, Ganeshpuram, until December 25.