Devajyoti Ray on his inspiration

GIVING WINGS TO IMAGINATION Devajyoti Ray’s “Pseudoreal Aspirations 2”   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Being part of the ongoing International Art Fair organised by Lalit Kala Akademi at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, the solo exhibition of Devajyoti Ray catches the eye. Called “Pseudoreal Aspirations”, the 11 acrylic on canvas works, on display till February 18, appeal not only because of their precise and neat figures and colours but also the deeper meanings they hold. While engaging the viewer, they encourage to see beyond the obvious.

An IPS officer, for whom painting has been a passion since childhood, Devajyoti’s works have been described as pseudoreal art in several art journals and magazines. Exhibiting for the past 12 years, his first solo was held in Kolkata in 2005, which was followed by many more in Mumbai’s Jehangir Galleryand at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre. His first international solo show was at Cinnamon Art House, Dubai in 2010 and the latest at Paris with Art Up Deco.

Devajyoti Ray

Devajyoti Ray  


On the theme “Pseudoreal Aspirations”

The idea is that what we believe our world to be is not actually based on what we actually see in reality. For example, a person is more influenced by what is shown on the TV or written or aired in the media and internet, rather than what is actually happening. These sources from where one gets images, ideas etc, are not always showing the truth and a person’s exposure to them creates his reality. For example, those with more access to internet will have different kind of reality than those who have lesser. So my idea is that we are living in a pseudoreal world as no reality is actual. This is visible in my paintings. None of them are real, everything is constructed. The colours, shapes and designs are also not real. But in spite of all that, when one sees the painting it is as comprehensible and believable as reality. This is pseudoreality.

Take “Pseudoreal Aspirations 1’, the first painting I made for this exhibition. The girl’s face is red, while that of another is green and that of the man is violet. That does not happen in reality but because of the colour combination and a certain way the figures are placed one does not seem to realise that. They look completely understandable. Seeing them in detail one realises it is not a real image. Also this work shows three other works of mine — ‘Bridget Transport Service’, ‘Thinking Bridget and ‘Indignity’.

On how the viewer should access it

Well, the viewer is not supposed to understand that it is not real. A viewer in the first instance should get the feeling that it is real. An attentive viewer or an artist will realise that it is a constructed reality. The charm of any painting is that it has two dimensions, one is what you see and the other is what is revealed as one sees it closely. So there is more to it than meets the eye (laughs).

On the ideas conveyed through his works

That we are living in a pseudoreal world. Take “Coffee In Dubai”, it has a pseudoscript. There is a Arabic or Urdu kind of script around the girl but it is not so. I have simply used the design element to make it look beautiful. On the face of it she looks like a modern woman in a modern attire, drinking coffee but the whole environment seems Islamic just because I have used this pseudoscript. So human perception can be altered by changing just one element. If the script is changed then she’ll be perceived as a Western woman or from another country. Note that by using just one aspect — the script — I am giving the whole picture a cultural connotation. The woman is coloured green and white which is not the human skin colour. So you can’t guess her race.

This work stresses that human beings irrespective of their country are same but some cultural connotations make a world of difference between them. Unfortunately, we tend to give much importance to these differences, highlighting them.

On being inspired by Bridget Riley, the English painter and the foremost exponent of Op art

I had studied her works for a long time and tried to make some of Bridget type of works. She made stripes in red, blue, grey, etc. continuously which would be horizontal or vertical. Using flat lines, these paintings seem to start moving as if by optical illusion. Her art is called optical art. So I have used the same colour ideas to make regular three-dimensional paintings. I made a series of paintings, including ‘Smoking Bridget’, ‘Drinking Bridget’, ‘Lying Bridget’ and others as a tribute to her.

“Thinking Bridget”

“Thinking Bridget”  

In this show we have ‘Sitting Bridget’ and ‘Bridget Transport Service’. In the first there are vertical lines in the background with Bridget sitting and wondering. In the other, there is a truck laden with boxes which are all painted in horizontal lines.

On the role of imagination in his artworks

Imagination is a part of human nature, inspiring progress. For instance ‘Pseudoreal Aspirations 2’, has a child watching a bunch of balloons in the air, with a woman hanging by its threads, from his balcony. Now this is not possible and is imaginary. The child signifies our imagination of flying with the help of balloons which is not possible.

On balancing his profession and creativity

I always wanted to be an artist but went on to become a bureaucrat. I do not regret as its a good career and great experience. This job has exposed me another kind of world. In past, I have made works showing prisoners, destitutes, beggars, etc. In ‘Indignity’, here is a painting portraying a woman seeking alms. It is clearly a life of indignity.



Even though she is lonely, she has a goat next to her which may or may not belong to her. It is just a poetic licence to show some solace in her life although many may wonder how she feeds the animal (laughs). I added the goat later, after finishing the painting to soften the image. Art helps in easing all the tension which one encounters in the job.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 7:56:35 PM |

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