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A family affair

Amitabh's Sentries of Time

THE ONGOING exhibition at Sumukha Art Gallery is unusual, mingling the works of a father-and-son duo. "The present series has an environment from the past," writes senior artist Amitabh Sengupta about his works, "... an undeniable influence of what I saw in the rock-cut shelters, temples, and all those metaphors of heritage lying alone and left to decay... These paintings are not the records of the past as from the historical meaning."

It is not too difficult to relate to Amitabh's words, as one views his canvases filled with old structures having crumbling walls, disintegrating roofs, carved pillars, imposing passages, and doorways and so on. The images exude a nostalgic feel even as the artist tries to provide some visual annotations and interpretations. Sentries of Time, for instance, sights a couple of stony sentinels in the vicinity of carved pillars, doors, and balconies. The stillness of the mood is interrupted by a patch of flame in the bottom half of the painting. Amitabh employs similar technique (ploy?) in several of his other canvases and tries to create "an empirical frame to view the abstract zone."

Unfortunately, the gambit does not pay off always; instead a sense of veiled monotony and predictability seeps in. Still, one cannot deny the mature attempts in some works such as Absurd Zone of History II, where the surrealistic intrusions are able to enhance the overall feel in the tight and intriguingly developed compositions.

Joydip, who is still in his early 30s, completed his BFA in Shantiniketan and MFA at the College of Art, New Delhi, as well as the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, UK. Joydip employs a variety of situations, subjects, and objects in his works — like a silent brush, wrinkled polywraps, vacant chairs, high tension wires, and crumpled automobiles alongside mythical figures, bathing ladies, and exercising men. As a result, his paintings exude a throbbing energy and confidence to snoop into different levels of reality, even as his efforts remain focused on creatively combining elements of fact, fiction, and fantasy.

Joydip deliberately divides his painting into different parts and creates rhythms and patterns, which take several forms, as in the rugged bust of a uniformed officer, behind whom is positioned a wooden horse. In another painting, an intriguing figure grabs the viewer's attention even as the street scene showing a row of cobbler shops slowly comes to light. In Silent Storm, the left side shows a group of burkha-clad women while on the other side stands a frontal image of a violent and ready-to-attack mercenary. In Infra Red, there are three parts, with the central one profiling an unsmiling woman on whose hand is perched a parrot. On either side are aggressive army pictures, the triptych combines to make a telling visual statement. Sleep is an even better effort, where a realistically delineated slumbering man on top of a wooden plank seems somewhat dwarfed by the rag-tag, torn posters and paper, swamping the bottom of the frame.

In another image, Joydip portrays the monkey god in flight carrying a truck (!) in his hand; below the scene is contemporary. This type of deliberate contradictions heightens the drama and sets the viewer to think.

The exhibition concludes today.


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