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THE TALE IS IN THE DETAIL

Inventive detailing makes the viewer look long and closely. To pick out disparate images separately and ponder how each fits into the overall scheme. This fluid traverse from micro elements to macro vision and back doesn’t allow monotony to set in. And at Cima’s summer show, which is on till August 2, there are several among the 51 artists presented, who have so cunningly wired their works with enticing details that the viewer will be drawn to look long and closely.

Consider Shreyasi Chatterjee, whose fetching vocabulary combines appliqué, embroidery and acrylic to translate her panoramic vision into clusters of quaint images with beguiling variations around bare stretches. What enchants one is her treatment of space: vertical in the tradition of the Miniature, replacing linear perspective with an all-over layout.

Or Sanam C.N., whose strange trees knit the sky with branches, twigs and leaves that filter in a diffused light and conjure a scrumptiously sinister mystery forest that’s partly dystopian sci-fi and partly Brothers Grimm. More extravagantly dystopian is Bahuleyan C.B.’s bombed-out, deserted city where tentacles of monstrous, toxic moss burgeon under an eerie dusk sky. And then there’s P.S. Jalaja’s watercolour which is intriguing in its incendiary content: a huge throng with representatives from different races, classes and nationalities surges towards a hectoring man at a lectern. This mass of humanity, boiling with rage, seems on the verge of a violent eruption.

Sumitro Basak, however, resorts as usual to a debunking wit as he assembles quite an armload of readymades — cheap little plastic playthings, often garishly coloured — with arbitrary abandon on a flat surface. That teases out the rural, underclass ethos associated with bazaar kitsch. But his tone isn’t free of a sly critiquing of the social system, either. Sougata Das is as debunking but quite clearly of the political rhetoric that brews in coffee cups daily. His choice of material — ink, transparent acrylic gel and acrylic silver on aluminium foil sheet — yields a striking metallic look. Kingshuk Sarkar is subtly, sensuously persuasive in his Million Birds Fly. Its symphony of delicate tones and textures celebrates the discards of Nature: fibres, birds’ nests, mulberry cocoons and so forth, reminding the viewer that the poetry of earth is never dead.

Shakila’s Kali is more dramatic than detailed. Nevertheless, the paper used, its colour and design invite scrutiny. What, for example, is that motif around the goddess that resembles a microphone but with teeth? Well. Another goddess form inspires Anwar Chitrakar. His picturesque dialect of robust lines derives an unusual elegance from a spare palette. And Indrapramit Roy’s acrylic is also to be taken note of.

The landscapes of Vishakha Apte, Anju Chaudhuri and Paramjit Singh — the first brooding and restless, the second playfully exuberant, the third contemplative — cannot become dated. Pradip Kumar Rakhsit’s seascape of rippling blues and greens and the heave of centrifugal forces in Yusuf’s Quanta reward the lingering look, too.

Now for the economy of language. First there’s Anirban Mukherjee. His monochrome ink stains and tracery of dripping trails recall the east Asian tradition, weaving whispering, barely-there cameo landscapes. But there’s also a punch from Prasanta Sahu’s acrylic diptych which, in approximating a camera’s low-angle close-up of a victim’s hand lying on a zebra crossing with slightly out-of-focus legs of passers-by walking past, brings a chilling muteness to a charged scene.

While Sushen Ghosh is engaged in a Minimalist quest for form in his bronze, Janak Jhankar Narzary distils concepts into a structure of symbols. The scriptural ring to Pankaj Panwar’s life-size fibreglass sculpture — Battle of the Angels —suggests that he takes the Biblical story as a paradigm of a struggle for power. The two battling figures are exactly alike. Neither is an obvious villain. Nor can there be, therefore, the comforting opiate of good triumphing over evil in an amoral universe where the winner takes it all.

But who is the winner when the opiate is the advertisement mythology of upscale lifestyles as the ultimate redemption from all ills? Farhad Hussain’s fibreglass tableau (picture) with its deliberately banal Pop Art image of posed joy — as though for the camera — seems to have a cynical aside: it’s the yuppie whose family becomes an advertisement brand. But Tapas Biswas seems to seek his personal redemption in a sacred Proustian ritual: memory. He finds its visual correlative in the fine, intricate mesh of what looks like a bird’s nest, recreated in electroplated brass. Because, yes, memory is a tortuous mesh of what’s recalled, what’s achingly elusive, and what’s irretrievably lost in the mind’s deeper recesses.