Well, yes, the name, Distant Thunder, does sound like Vajrayana Buddhism. But no, the show at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture, on till September 19, isn’t about thangkhas, though you do spot a cute thangkha-style cloud as part of a sculpture. The gallery is projecting the promise of young artists, some of whom may, indeed, have the capability of making a noise, even if it’s not thunderous.
The first of them is Krishna Trivedi who impishly takes Worli to Miro in a most lively, capricious cross-cultural encounter. The giant motif that anchors the imagery in both her works is of a bloated foot with generous hollows and blobs for toes (picture), echoing the kind of tactile biomorphic shapes the Spanish master liked to play around with. A wobbly ladder, knobby twigs, dainty umbrellas and quaint buildings compose a strange little fantasy land for spry little Worli denizens going about their everyday chores. The artist has, insightfully, limited her palette in a way that lends buoyant life to the tableau.
Equally riveting are Arunangshu Roy’s three works. They seem to draw upon different folk traditions that are brewed with street art and cartoon forms, while the brusque, bold lines and sharp angles may sometimes remind you of Picasso drawings. Completely different in their style and approach are Pratul Dash, Sudip Saha and Rajesh Ram; their emphasis is on a realistic depiction of narratives that tilt towards the surreal. Dash’s diptych, Spilled Water, is descended, particularly, from de Chirico’s beguiling architectural mystery and Magritte’s surreptitious twists. The treatment of space and attention to minutiae conjure the baffling seduction of dreams. But its very strength might undermine its worth for, ultimately, it appears too European. Saha’s Irritating does bring an established artist to mind, but his canvases are quietly compelling. Babu Xavier’s charged landscapes and Mithun Das Gupta’s gaunt distortions aren’t without appeal, but the artist you notice for his, provocatively erotic innuendoes is sculptor Saikat Halder. Two of his pieces are cleverly conceived. One is After Use; the other is titled, with suggestive humour, Blow of Vitality. The male member, erected like a tower with a stylized cloudlet that obviously stands for spermatozoa, has a self-mocking tone, while also referring to the Shivalinga. Devesh Upadhyay’s terracotta works speak of his eye for skewed form.