Searching and Finding Newer Frontiers
by Haimanti Dutta Ray
Kolkata. Tracing the Invisible Points of Origin: An exhibition of recent works by Sekhar Roy, inaugurated by noted novelist Kunal Basu opened at the Aakriti Art Gallery on February 16, continuing till 29th.
There were forty two works on display. Most of the works have been done in watercolour on acid-free boards. There were these emaciated figures in somnolent postures, waiting for either their doom or a brighter future. Amidst all the monochromatic and subdued imagery, Sekhar Roy has always added a touch of vibrancy of colour (there is a preponderance of the vermillion shade). It may be in the shape of a butterfly drawn on top of a little girl's frock or in the suggestion of many-hued tattoos on a face. There are dreamy sequences where we see the deer hanging upside down. But it is no ordinary deer, hardly so. It is the fabled reindeer, the deer which charms but escapes our attempts at captivity. In this work, the viewer is reminded of the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Durer (1471- 1528) who had painted several fine botanical wildlife and landscape watercolours and is generally considered amongst the earliest exponents of this medium. In Roy's works, we find ourselves meandering our ways through a world of magic realism. There was another work where a solitary bird is perched on a branch. The interesting aspect in the painting lies not in the bird, but in the hint of the barbed wire hanging next to the bird. Attempts to cage in wildlife, birds in particular, can only result in disasters and natural calamities. A new addition in his recent works is the use of hidden floral motifs within the main body of the painting.
An installation also found a place of pride at the exhibition was a mixed media work, the only one at the show. It showed houses, one upon the other, made out of piece boards on which charcoal segregated images have been made and several automobile tyres were kept by the side. The rear wall of the gallery was plastered with a large painting done on paper using charcoal. A three-dimensional visual experience was conveyed by the fact that the painting was peeled off deliberately at a place, into a triangular cone. However smudged the work had appeared to be, there was no denying the fact that the work was an extension of the artist's mastery of his medium. It established the fact that the artist has been trying hard to break free from conventional clichéd styles to which he could and had been relegated to in the past. But Sekhar Roy is amongst those handful of senior artists who have and still do pursue tonal painting with fervour and discipline. Small dwellings, as well as those residing in slums, the high rises of the city - all share one thing in common. All of them provide shelter and protection from the natural elements to all their residents.
As for the other smaller works, Roy had found fun in dealing with boards as supports for his watercolours. A friend of his had previously suggested the idea to him. Henceforth, there was no looking back. The artist had derived a sense of satisfaction in trying out and dealing with newer and novel possibilities. There were two- three landscapes as well, but these were different in the way that they were basically monochromatic.
Sekhar Roy deals with subjects and issues with sensitive modulation of tints and shades. He has experimented with his craft, without compromising over his roots and tradition. The works have a magnetic attraction sufficient to mesmerize his viewers at a time when Bengal artists and art from Bengal face difficult situations at the international art market. Bengal art as well as artists from the state have always charmed viewers worldwide for their styles of execution as well as concepts. Roy has been in the firmament of Bengal art long enough to be considered as a deft hand who executes with his paintbrush the intricate wefts of human toil.