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Blend of contrasts

A streak of contradiction comes through in Shiladitya Sarkar's paintings


"I HAVE led a bohemian life but have never been undisciplined," says Kolkata-based artist Shiladitya Sarkar, seeming to contradict himself.

This contrariness is an element that is present in all his work. "Most great artists have been highly disciplined in their life and incredibly vibrant in their art. The bohemian traits are expressed in their art," he says.

An example of this contrariness in his nature is his painting "Songs to Come." At first glance, it looks like a work full of optimism — a flute, a fledgling and splashes of bright colour against a navy blue background seeming to herald hope, but look closer and there are shades of reality — a sense of doubt whether the future will be as bright as hoped for.

Sarkar also describes this contrariness as "my wry sense of humour," indicating his painting "The Moon Looks Down" as an example.

"In "Equipoise," which is supposed to depict the balance between man and woman, the characters have a puppet-like quality, suspended in between worlds," says this writer and artist.

Sarkar has authored a biography on artist Ganesh Pyne and his first novel is awaiting publication. "All arts overlap. I don't consider it unusual to be both a fiction writer and an artist. There is a symbiotic relationship between art and writing," says this self-taught artist, who had his first solo show in 1998.

Since then he has exhibited his work in the U.S., the U.K. and Singapore, though this is his first show in Chennai.

Sarkar works with mixed media using tempera fill, which gives his works the qualities of opacity, opalescence and transparency. "Hemmed in Stones" and "Those who Sail" have a rather stony texture, while "Everyday Icon" is completely solid. "The Door and the Face" depicts the dilemma of whether one should look outwards or inwards to find oneself.

"Sailor of the Deep," which he describes as one of his favourite paintings, portrays the idea of seeking something that seems just beyond one's reach.

The exhibition was on at Prakrit Arts.

SHALINI UMACHANDRAN

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