Colours of the Desert
by Nalini S Malaviya
Bengaluru. Recently, Gallery Sumukha held a preview of Paresh Maity's recent works comprising of paintings, sculptures and installations before the exhibition travels to Wei Ling Contemporary Gallery in Kuala Lampur. This incidentally will be Maity's first solo show in Malaysia. The untitled series explores human relationships, particularly that between a man and a woman. According to the press release, 'Maity feels that man and woman, and the various relationships that exist between the two, is the largest monumental living image that surrounds us all everyday in every part of the world. Through these works, he endeavours to show the many emotions that prevail between two people, their love, closeness, and happiness, as well as their sorrows and disappointments, their failures and triumphs'.
Paresh Maity's exhibition is being held in Bengaluru after a gap of almost a decade and has a large body of work with more than 30 canvases and a few bronze and fibreglass works. Maity's works as always are large, vividly colourful, romantic and stylized in their rendering, especially the canvases. On the other hand, the sculptures and installation are surprisingly uncluttered and almost minimal in appearance. In addition, they have been lit dramatically to create a theatrical effect, which is amplified by the large format of the work. The bronze sculpture, Face of the World, we are told, depicts the 'germination of art, symbolised by the light effect in the sculpture, and art itself refers directly to the creative process. The sculpture thus sends out the message that light (enlightenment) and art, when merged together, result in creation, as a world created'.
Maity's forms have been angular and stylized for the last several years, but what becomes pronounced in this series is the cubist influence, which is markedly evident in some of the canvases. The bold primary colours on the canvas are reminiscent of the vibrancy of the deserts of Rajasthan, the nomadic way of life, and a quiet simplicity and joy that stems from the simple things of life. An avid traveller, Maity finds inspiration from the lands that he visits and his encounters with people, for instance musicians and wandering performers. And, thus we have been seeing the sand dunes of Rajasthan, the backwaters of Kerala, the canals of Venice, the pyramids of Egypt, the lake of Geneva at different points in time.
As Ina Puri mentions in the catalogue text, “In Santiniketan there have been the Baul singers, ektaara in hand, draped in 'gerua' robes who have mesmerized him with their soulful songs, in Kerala, the dramatically made up Kathakali dancers have left their impression on him, becoming his dramatis personae in recent times, captured visually as they swirled and performed to their audiences, in tiny, non descript hamlets. Cycle of Life in the present suite resonates with a similar energy, the painter's focus now on troupes of Rajasthani performers, as they go about their daily lives, their moments of joy, disappointments, their rituals of marriage and everyday domesticity.”
The 1965 born artist studied painting at Government College of Art and Craft, Kolkata and then did his master's from College of Art, New Delhi. Over the years, he has moved from water-colours to oils and now recently to sculptures and installations in bronze and fibreglass.
From nature studies to the human form, Maity's works have evolved and seen a shift, yet there is a characteristic quality to his art which spells of his individuality and signature. Over the years, the vibrancy of Maity's palette, the folk elements in his art, the stylized look and the large scale depictions have succeeded in creating a brand that has become hugely popular within the country as well as abroad. Its association with 'Indianness' and a perceived notion of contemporization of folklore and craft has perhaps been a contributing factor.