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Like passages of silent music

Memories, journeys and map-making have, for years, inspired Jayashree Chakravarty’s canvases and vast body of paperwork. Such mental and physical processes, and states of mind, continue to intrigue and provoke Chakravarty. The artist has travelled a long way since her exhibition last year, both in terms of the manner in which she attacks these standard themes and the direction in which her painterly skills have evolved and flowered in so short a span.

As her recent preview at Galerie 88 proves, where most Indian artists of her repute are content to rest on their laurels, she has never stopped her quest for a more expressive painterly style. This is particularly difficult in a city like Calcutta, which stifles all creative activity.

Chakravarty has developed a complex, multi-layered style that conceals as much as it reveals. Her paintings are akin to visual conundrums, where the suggestions of distinct physical forms emerge through the skin of paint, only to be swamped by the whirlwind of brush strokes. Large areas of brilliant light appear on her canvases, as if the artist were at the bottom of a lake viewing the sun through dense aquatic jungles. Warm Indian reds and ochres and cool greens and blues are punctuated by dashes of pearly white that shimmer and glow when light falls on it from a certain angle.

Her starting point may have been memories of the environs of art camps in Shillong, Madhya Pradesh, Bankura, and Tripura, where she was brought up, but they overlap with remembrances of the vineyards she had seen in France, where she lived for an extensive period for advanced training. The artist herself says the manner she applies paint is akin to the manner in which certain terracotta temples of Bankura, not covered by the Archaeological Survey of India umbrella, have over the years become totally engulfed by parasites that yet afford intriguing glimpses of the structure. She first paints a form and gradually applies several coats of paint over it, exposing, perhaps, only a sliver of the original.Though her canvases transcend any specific time and space and create the impression of manic activity, the inner core of tranquillity in unmistakable. They are like passages of silent music, where the score plays in the imagination of the viewer and the artist. The great surge of energy thus produced is congealed on her canvases. Chakravarty’s exhibition opens on September 12 at the India Habitat Centre, Delhi.

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