Abirpothi

India’s only daily art newspaper

This week\’s artists bring you drama, dystopia, energy and introspection

Vitesh Naik: Figuring out some human drama

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The playful mien of several artworks by Vitesh Naik belies the serious social discussions they can spark. Through figurative renditions, he chooses to unearth different aspects of the human psyche, like greed, hypocrisy, joy, doubt, and lots more. His works are crowded with lots of human figures and forms, and he uses a unique style of depiction along with different gestures, expressions and moods of the figures, bringing movement and drama to the composition — which ultimately looks at creating dialogue between the viewer and the art. Take for instance the mix media on paper piece titled \’Gamblers\’. The level of minute detail in the depiction of a pack of men encircling a lone woman as they play a game of cards and indulge in some vices (with a smirking cat in one corner of the frame), makes one wonder what exactly the artist is trying to depict about the situation. Elsewhere, in the etching called \’Tears behind the laugh\’, the tone becomes more sombre, a circus like atmosphere shown devoid of colour, with the grins on the faces of the participants stuck on, although a hidden face behind the curtains is making displeasure very clear — an old paradox brought to life. The same sombre tones are also seen in \’Pieta\’, another piece of etching that is visibly inspired by the Renaissance sculpture made by art legend Michelango, evoking sorrow and compassion in an interpretation that Vitesh has made his own.

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Sewon Rai: Dystopia in bleak landscapes

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A subject that has captured the imagination of thousands over the years has been depictions of the spoils of war, or bleak visions of apocalyptic aftermaths. This is something Sewon Rai captures in a unique way in his artworks, basing them on a dystopian vision of the world. Sadness, suffering and anguish are layered into the frames, and the various elements often veer into impressionistic renditions. But these spectacular visuals also carry another layer, which is personal reflection, and a paean to suffering and loss. An observation of one of his ‘Untitled’ works reveals the use of the poppy flower as a powerful symbol and motif in the piece. These pops of red are scattered in a whole field over a dilapidated, gloomy, overgrown sort of landscape, which clearly hides gruesome secrets in its dark depths. Amid this, the bold and stark paradox of the scarlet blooms is reminiscent of shed blood, whilst being a celebration of the fact that life asserts itself in the most seemingly impossible of circumstances. In ‘Conspiring Clouds’, textures from the technique used rise from the frame, and the whispers of buried skeletons lie at the heart of the painting. The clouds that gather above in the sky almost meld into the colours of the ground, yet manage to appear both menacing and helpless to bring healing to the troubled earth below.

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Shatrudhan K Gupta: Depictions of the dynamic

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Interestingly, Shatrudhan K Gupta deeply believes that art is the best medium to connect with invisible energy, like during meditation. This uplifting dynamic transcends into a creative process to which he chooses not to set limitations — his artworks utilize a diversity of colours, shapes, textures, division of space, materials and forms, all of which are constantly researched by the artist. Themes from modern Indian culture as well as thoughts on society are distilled into different projects, such as the ‘YOU ARE UNDER CCTV SURVEILLANCE SERIES’. There is an almost fable-like use of animal silhouettes in this, perched precariously on top of each other and amidst mundane pieces of furniture, set against monochromatic backgrounds, but emitting what looks like a vibrantly coloured stream of conversation, or thought, or simply consciousness. Another interesting work is ‘SPEED LIMIT’ — a vividly bright single sneaker looks poised on a marked out road, even as similarly bright and multi-hued arrows seem to shoot past at varying speeds and distances. Alternatively, maybe they are poised in place, waiting full of potential to shoot out of the frame. The shoe, however, seems in no hurry to sprint — there is even a gentle sprig of ferns growing out of it, indicating perhaps a manner of rootedness and slowing down.

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Sonali Laha: Exploring the self

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Through her art practice, Sonali Laha explores the journey of the human mind, body, and soul, while continually manifesting her own feeling and experiences through her work. As a result, much of her work seems fascinating autobiographical, even as it chooses to depict narratives that are common to many thousands more. In a beautiful explanation of how she approaches her art, Sonali has said that her “painting surface is like skin and all the colors go deeper into it and create a bright outcome”. There is a tone of quiet strength, resistance and courage in her works. In \’Conflict 3\’, the portrait of a woman\’s face, set against an inky dark background, is stark and moving — half of it seems overcast by shadow, and a tear rolls down that eye, speaking of deep sorrow. The other half is so illuminated as if to be fading and barely able to exert its identity. \’Untitled 5\’ takes on another facet of a portrait, with a young woman expressing surprise or shock, a miasma of bloody, splotched red surrounding her face, and a pair of only eyes surrealistically appearing in the background as if thrown off of her person. Untitled 1 takes on a seemingly more soothing tone, with a woman (or a fantasy manifestation of the female form) drowning in the pastel pink petals of lotus flowers, as if one with nature and the sky, even as a tiny swarm of bees gently surround her and explore the unusual floral arrangement.

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