regular-article-logo Thursday, 28 September 2023

Glowing embers

The 100 works exhibited at 'Different Strokes in Black and Blue' present a comprehensive profile of Jogen Chowdhury’s oeuvre as he explores different media

Srimoyee Bagchi Published 30.10.21, 06:53 AM
A pen and ink on postcard sketch by Jogen Chowdhury.

A pen and ink on postcard sketch by Jogen Chowdhury. Debovasha

Surely it takes very little for a seasoned artist like Jogen Chowdhury to turn out heads, nudes, animals and lively floral arrangements, such as the ones exhibited in the show, Different Strokes in Black and Blue, organized by Debovasha recently? Still, the 100 works exhibited present a comprehensive profile of Chowdhury’s oeuvre as he explores different media — from dabbling with delicate watercolour and tempera scenes, portraits and plant and animal studies to chiselling out his own, off-kilter syntax of trenchant lines, blistering cross-hatchings and a dark palette — to uncover a strange cast of victims and predators with flowing, frontal, wide eyes staring back at the viewer.

Noticeably different, of course, is the ubiquitousness of the mask in works executed in 2020 and 2021. The half-hidden face serves to make the pained and petrified expressions of Chowdhury’s characters even more stark. Also worth noting are the line sketches done on postcards with pen and ink. The confident lines of a practised artist like Chowdhury bring out a myriad shadows and textures without needing to resort to his signature cross-hatchings.

Ironically, success and recognition may have cooled the fire and rebellion within — Chowdhury’s recognizable bold lines and distortions that once unsettled have now subsided into rehearsed iconography. Interestingly, though, the floral still lifes, with their sinuous flow — referring to the indigenous tradition of alpona — are still as fresh.

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