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A controlled playfulness with colours

Published : Dec 24, 2015, 4:04 am IST
Updated : Dec 24, 2015, 4:04 am IST

Sudip Roy, a refined realistic painter, brings his expertise and layered approach to abstract works

Work by artist Sudip Roy
 Work by artist Sudip Roy

Sudip Roy, a refined realistic painter, brings his expertise and layered approach to abstract works

The old adage of once a good artist, always a good artist doesn’t usually hold water for many reasons: for one, the phases of an artist’s artistic life can go through many upheavals and when artists are experimenting, the phases may not look as appetizing or for that matter even properly finished. The phases of experimentation can end up looking very similar to the average onlooker and may not be as exciting. I am reminded of a line that the Kathak doyen Pandit Birju Maharaj says about experimenting: “Every year you accuse me of doing the same tat-tat-dha but the subtle nuances that I create every year within the tat-tat-dha the audiences are unable to perceive. Am I to blame ”

Looking at Sudip Roy’s latest abstract works is a little like that. For he is known essentially as refined realistic painter whose lyricism is evident in the almost wistful and romantic watercolours that he paints of ruins, images of old Calcutta, of layers of shadows that he perceives within darkness sets him apart. And when he brings this expertise to his abstract works it is a continuation of his layered approach. His show Odyssey that opened in New Delhi this week is replete with a controlled playfulness as he plays with colours and takes his earlier abstract works when he worked with Time many steps forward.

Moving from realism where time seems to stand still, to abstraction is a step that is akin to a certain detachment from familiar terrain. This is a journey of sorts for Sudip Roy in which he explores inventing colour in its smoky embers and its deepened depths wanting to stoke the fire and the surreal crevices within his own struggles and journeys as an artist. “It depends on my mood, I draw when I feel the need but when I do abstraction it depends on the search within on my feelings. Over the past two years I have been doing a lot of these large canvasses that are full of turbulence, trials and tribulation. The darkened recesses you see are my inner questions,” says artist Sudip. He is happy to create in the restraint of his own islands of thought. But he had named the works according to the gravity of the tides of time.

Dawn and dusk became parameters of time and he unveiled the fact that he observes his process as much as he controls it, adding inscrutability, surprise, strangeness and elements of surprise to his work. The colours that Sudip experiments with are fully within his control as he explores with unusual hues that are elegant, sophisticated and energetic. There is a memory of colours having splashed on the canvas but with a flair that speaks millions about the wrist that flicked them. He delves deep into the melancholia within, a meandering flow of the prism of an innate character. There is certain incandescence in the works that hark of beaches and rivers and flowing waters that hold layers of meaning in the layers of depth within.

Many critics in the West state that abstraction, though it continues to flourish, no longer commands the kind of exclusive or sectarian loyalty it once did. We now know that its energies, too, are capable of flagging, and thus of degenerating into empty rhetoric. We are therefore more open to lively alternatives. Time has altered our perspective on understanding abstraction too because it straddles many mediums and sensibilities. However, in my opinion because of our vast history of art and figurative realism brought in through various mediums and the colours, we allow ourselves to use without getting into debates of kitsch and pop, our explorations with abstraction have many layers and depth waiting to be discovered and created. Many whiffs of freshness waiting to be imbibed and ingested before we whilt!

Dr Alka Raghuvanshi is an art writer, curator and artist and can be contacted on alkaraghuvanshi