| Cyclic Circumstances, a mixed medium work by Samir Roy, on display at The Artery
Such is the power of art that a copy of Guernica, Picassoís famous statement against war, hanging at the UN headquarters, had to be covered recently so as not to embarrass the Americans. Violence, that is rearing its ugly head in all spheres of life today, as it has ever since humans came on earth, or, perhaps, ever since creation, is the theme of the current exhibition at The Artery, at Himadri Apartments, 22, Ballygunge Park Road.
It has five participants, four of whom are either in their 30s or early 40s. The fifth is Paritosh Sen, nearly double their age. Most of the drawings and paintings are in a rather large format, some on canvas, some on paper. They give the impression of frenetic movement, perhaps because they are all characterised by bold lines on a large surface.
A strong element of fantasy underlies the works of Samir Roy. He pastes thick, handmade paper on mount board, on which he impinges his images using mixed media, but only after moistening the paper. Consequently, the paper looks like it has been scrubbed with great force and the image lies embedded within. So, the execution is an act of violence. From afar, the images look like a tangle of tendrils, an octopus with its long, sinewy arms, a whirlpool, or art nouveau ornament seen so frequently cast in wrought iron. But if one looks carefully, one can discover a pretty nasty looking pair of eyes, and immediately afterwards, a craggy visage forms before oneís eyes. This creature seems intent on entrapping victims in its toils.
The artist is not devoid of a sense of humour. Many of these tendrils sprout ripe, bulbous mammaries, so that some of the images are charged with a very grotesque sort of eroticism which is so much a part of life. These open-ended images could suggest many things to many viewers, which is something they have in common with the drawings of Victor Hugo. Rorschach inkblots executed by a creative artist.
Satyaranjan Sarkar uses unusual formats for his works. For example, his Past, Present, Future is in four sections, with three rectangular projections dividing the space vertically. Some of his human forms are distorted to the point of being caricatures ó power-hungry windbags. The muscled male nude with very prominently delineated genitals exudes machismo. Bayonets are turned aggressively and ranged next to them are giant molars. He executes certain images with paint that glows in dim light.
In keeping with his focus on consumerism and war-mongering, he conjures up menacing images of men selling health food or cashing in on misery.
Bodies ricochet off one another in S.K. Sahajahanís works. Human beings try to pulverise each other and the victims are not necessarily women. In fact, in a reversal of roles, it is the women who posturise aggressively. Donning African masks a la dames of Avignon, they wield knives with sharp, shiny edges. Even the act of creation is fraught with violence.
The only woman participant is Sudeshna Haldar. Many of her works are variations on the theme of Shakti. Vasundhara, or Gaia, springs forth from her motherís womb, still attached to her umbilical chord. Her tongue hangs out like Kaliís. Ravana is another manifestation of brute force. This desire to dominate is even projected in the scenes where a man and woman try to overpower a second woman.
Paritosh Sen amazes with his painting of rugby, considered one of the most violent games. Eyes blazing, one of the players is trying to break through the wall of human bodies. Sen is a master of drawing and this is proved anew in his Wrestler, one of them with head downwards, a man sharpening a knife, and another extracting venom from the fangs of a snake, and yet another beheading a fish. These are in black and white and without any embellishments.
Here is one artist whom age has not withered.