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Parodying myths

Human idiosyncrasies find visual realisation in Deepak Shinde's canvases


AS ONE ambles through the gallery enjoying the hybridised forms of Deepak Shinde, particularly the animals, striking is his visual vocabulary ensconced in allegorical and symbolic language. Buttressed with titles such as Ashwamedha, Gandhrva, Yogini, Matsyakanya, Nagkanya et al, one expects a conventional representation of these iconic forms from Indian myth. Rather Shinde engages with these characters to mediate lightheartedly dimensions of human psychology and emotions. Shinde, a senior Mumbai-based artist, is showcasing his works at the Forum Art Gallery. His works inscribing his creative vision have been evolved through self-revelation. Employing this iconography, Shinde sets forth his artistic vocabulary. Says the artist, "I am convinced that paintings should always have some serious thoughts as their base." This serious engagement has enabled him to gracefully meld mythic concepts creating an interactive dialogue with the viewer, that has wit and humour.

As a thinking artist, such shifts in the creative visualisation make possible the easy integration of parody and satire. Every artist moves beyond skill, which forms the bedrock of his art, and weaves his creativity within it to mark his expressive explorations.

So strikingly noticeable is the artist's control of the medium, which besides using traditional brush extends his tools to include mundane objects as perhaps a comb to explore surface texture manipulated craftily with paint.The grid-like effect, which the artist has juxtaposed with his powerful forms, has been obtained using a Chinese brush dipped in whipped acrylic paint and applied as horizontal and vertical lines with the canvas placed on the ground. These structured textures play an attention-seeking role inviting a closer scrutiny.

Reinforcing the surface textures is juxtaposition of effulgent chromas.

This display of a vibrant palette, reminiscent of Indian summer and the Holi festival are fragments of nostalgia. Shinde has traversed a wide gamut of personalised expressions in his art from figuration to abstraction. Always believing that `artists must be socially aware', he brings to his frames that awareness about life's experiences in which he explores the crux of human relationships through the mythicising process. In the painting `Laila Majnu', he parodies the madness and foolisheness of emotions. In `Nagkanya', he portrays a couple in the background and has a vicious snake prowling in the foreground symbolically providing the connectivity to the nature and character of the woman, indirectly implicating also perhaps the biblical story of temptation. The lively meanderings of Shinde throw forth his angst but camouflaged through parodies. The rasa of human idiosyncrasy finds visual realisation; actively explored through forms where he juxtaposes man with the corresponding animal. The monkey seems to be playing a central role in many of his frames beginning with `Evolution to Theatre'; for it is the intricacies of monkey business that man is involved with. Whereas in `Stud' he has morphed the horse's mane to take on the stripes of the tiger, thus hybridising the animal to conflate the character of nobility of the horse with the fierceness of the tiger.

Shinde's canvases are enchanting, intriguing and tantalising and take the viewer through a gamut in which he ultimately begins to see himself qualified as some animal.

The exhibition is on view till October 30.

ASHRAFI S. BHAGAT

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