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Portrait of a ‘nonsense’ artist

He shares his name with one Ray and his creations are reminiscent of another’s. Young artist Satyajit Roy’s first solo exhibition, Dream Weaver, opened at Studio21 on Friday.

The 30 water-colours and pen-on-paper works on display offer a glimpse into Roy’s surreal world full of birds, tiger, zebra, shoes, guns, firecrackers and other known objects. Most of them are an interesting blend of two or more living and non-living objects that produce a perfect example of surreal art or dream imagery.

The pen-on-paper creations are done in red and black, the reason being rather practical. “I work with fine gel pens and red and black ones are the most easily available. Besides, I like to heighten the contrast in my images,” said the artist who also works as a senior designer in an IT firm.

The exhibition, as the artist himself puts it, is all about “merging of familiar objects”, often reminding one of Sukumar Ray’s nonsense world. So, we see a zebra head with a gun, a pen dropper with a monkey’s face, a parrot with an elephant’s foot, a bird with a shoe, a pair of snakes with heads of birds and some offering a more complex imagery. Hansjaru anyone?

The artist, however, says he has been inspired by mythology, rather than Sukumar Ray’s magnificent creatures. “Mythology is full of hybrid creatures and so is ancient art. Surrealism is an important genre all over the world,” he said.

Besides artwork, the show also includes two sculptures, both of strange creatures — one a black peacock wearing trousers and titled A Superstar and the second a cross between a zebra’s body and a bird’s head. “A bird’s beak intrigues me. But not all my images have a meaning or message behind them,” admitted the artist.

Yet one cannot miss his eye for detail in each and every work. A very topical and interesting exhibit is that of a politician, a “very corrupt one”. In Roy’s imagination, this politician has an elephant’s trunk and a parrot’s head with a Gandhi cap sitting on it. The work is a combination of water colours and pen.

Another of Roy’s works that grabs eyeballs is that of a firecracker (kalipotka) made of zebra legs.

His Creature and Shoe series too presents one interesting concoction after another. What stands out is a pen work called Pankha, which is just that — a hand fan — with intricate designs and detailed work. “I have been working on these illustrations since 2012,” said the artist.

The exhibition is on till May 3.