An Inspired Melange
by Haimanti Dutta Ray
Time Past Is Present, recent works by Sudip Roy opened at the Aakriti Art Gallery on 2nd March and continued till the 20th of the month. Avijit Mazumdar, Chairman, TIL, had inaugurated the exhibition and Uma Nair had delivered a talk on the occasion. Sudip Roy’s works can be labelled as ‘postmodernist’ in the sense that the artist himself belongs to the postmodernist era. But he is as much rooted to tradition and to past generations of the Bengal School as any other artist of our local soil. Born in Kolkata, Sudip Roy is a gold medallist from the Government College of Art and Craft and he moves with comfort from watercolours to techniques and subjects of great range and rigour. The world of the artist can be ascribed to the realism and impressionism that goes back to the magic of light and the power of colour awash in atmospherics. The washes of the transparent watercolour method, which is slowly and steadily being relegated to an extinct art form, bring back the moody colour planes and expression of the old Chugtai and Bengal School Masters. This exhibition at Aakriti had travelled to other cities as well. It was first showcased at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, followed by Art Positive Gallery, New Delhi, and Kalakriti Art Gallery, Hyderabad. After touring Kolkata, the show travels to Right Lines Gallery, Bangalore.
Sudip Roy lives and works in Delhi. Some of the paintings on exhibit at the show make explicit the beauty implicit in the human body showing that its form was inherently beautiful suggesting that it was ideal despite itself. Works like Gesture (wash on paper) amply exemplify this. His Sadhu, The Trishul, Warm Flames and Retired Clock (all watercolours on paper), bespeak of his immense toil in order to grasp a mastery over his medium. Especially, the latter, where an old clock is depicted on top of a minaret. It conjured up an old world charm, the mesmerizing power of which is slowly but steadily evaporating and being replaced by modern-day eyesores. The Trishul and Sadhu amply demonstrated his indebtedness to past masters of the medium of transparent watercolour. There were also small works done in the same medium - Red Sofa and Good Morning. These had more of a still life painting effect. There were Last Supper 1 and 2 (both washes on paper). Roy had travelled to Europe and these trips were done principally to study Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings and drawings. During these trips, The Last Supper by Da Vinci had become one of the artist’s study objects. But he has transcreated the concept in his own inimitable style.
In Roy’s Charulata series (oils on canvas), there is this enigmatic character, the woman who becomes the artist’s muse. As he states, this Charulata belongs to yesterday and today, she is the heroine of the drama, she is silent like a spectator, like a caged bird who sings and finds her own freedom in her gaze. Sudip Roy has experimented with a host of materials and has utilized them to their utmost perimeters. The abstract works - some of which were triptychs - are an amalgam of media. Roy has used oil, copper and steel in a single work and has titled them quite enigmatically (6.08AM, 7AM, 9.20AM and 6.30PM). In Speed 2 (oil on canvas) the artist has deftly captured the agile movement of the human body. In this exhibition, Roy has hung three of his tribute series. Amongst them, Husain Saab (charcoal on paper) was the most noteworthy. Gandhiji and The Poet were passable and easily forgettable. On the whole, the show has captured the myriad facets of an artist with just glimpses or flashes of genius strokes in order to achieve heights of finesse and perfection. One couldn’t help feeling that the artist has compromised on his medium (i.e. watercolour) to be in step with changing times.