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Visual jazz

The G.C. Laha Gallery recently showcased “Colorit”, an exhibition of works by Joy Bhaduri — perhaps better known to Calcutta as the former frontman of city band Krosswindz. Now based in Milan, the La Martiniere alumnus, who left the city in 2001, has turned wholeheartedly to art.

Blame his background in music for his subjects. For Joy, the canvas is inseparable from what he listens to. The very title of this last show is a play on jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour’s album Color Rit, while the exhibition is rife with images and titles that hark back to jazz-fusion and all things in between.

Forced to stop singing because of a debilitating illness in 1996, Joy sought solace in the music of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, tabla maestro Pandit Swapan Chowdhury and Carlos Santana. While painting was always second nature, Bhaduri was encouraged by the late artist Badhan Das to take to the canvas with more seriousness. Bhaduri’s decision to leave home in 2001 was significant — he travelled across Pondicherry, Pune, and Kodaikanal, started working with leprosy patients, studied post-modernist visual masters and took a leap into yoga and meditation. In 2005, Bhaduri moved to Milan with his wife Sara. He has since shown across Europe and the US and has gone on to meet a few of his teen idols to present them with his art, including jazz great Billy Cobham. He won the best artistic direction award in 2008 at Nizza Monferrato, a wine and art festival in Milan, while his action paintings were awarded by the Haschette Rusconi group; publishers of ELLE and GQ.

“Since I had no formal training, I had no references and had to start from scratch. But I had all the music I could listen to and I started painting to what I was listening. In due course, I was painting the music itself,” the affable artist explains. Thus, much of his work employs abstract idioms, dealing with emotions that music stirs in the soul.

For this show, he displayed his work in three categories; the ‘Legends’ series, the ‘Blue’ series and the ‘Signature’ series. The ‘Legends’ section offers glimpses into works of stalwarts like Chowdhury and Larry Carlton. Angular and often multi-layered, these acrylic-on-canvas works reflect a sympathetic sensibility with the particular piece of music in context.

While visual interpretations of such energy are rare, Bhaduri’s art often surpasses bounds of mere “interpretation” to translate itself into art — as in Skella, an imposing piece dedicated to Chowdhury.

Always eager to experiment, Bhaduri is now working with wines and acrylic as mixed media and spends his free time at the Little Star School in Varanasi, a boarding school for abandoned girl children, supported by the Milagro Foundation founded by Carlos Santana.

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