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Amitabh SenGupta
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AMITABH SENGUPTA: UNFOLDING EPICS
Venka Purushothaman
Art writer, Singapore

“It is not the object of the story to convey a happening per se ... rather it embeds it in the life of the storyteller in order to pass it on as experience to those listening. It thus bears the marks of the storyteller much as the ear­then vessel bears the marks of the potter's hand.”
Walter Benjamin

In the practice of 'looking' at art, viewers often seek to locate narratives of sorts through traces of information located in the colour, texture, grammar, framing, com­position and even title of an artwork. In some instances, the work 'speaks' for itself explicitly; while in other instances, the work has to be 'read' implicitly. Both instances provide a number of possible pleasures for the viewer and the artist. On one level, the viewer derives peculiar narcissistic pleasure at looking. A work of art may seem distanced from the world of the viewer, yet it plays a critical role in fulfilling primordial desires of the viewer to be framed within social and personal narrati­ves. On the other hand, the artist derives pleasure in having a degree of control in subjecting his viewer to the gaze of his paintings.

The canvases of Amitabh SenGupta carry the marks of history as they present themselves as social and perso­nal narratives of visualization. The power of SenGupta's work belies in its ability to surface and problematize issues relating to art - particularly, that which is framed as 'Indian' art. In this regard, three features stand out.

Firstly, as a widely travelled and celebrated artist, SenGupta quietly relays a complex sense of place and space unveiling a strong Indian sensibility that refuses and re-fuses notions of contemporary and the traditio­nal. The balance between framing tradition as narratives, vibrant colours, naturalistic settings, rituals, figurative and socio/magic realism; and the contemporary defined as abstractions and psychodynamic conceptual isms is carefully struck in the artworks of SenGupta. Signs that are quickly recognized as being 'Indian' are interjected by fluid concepts of alienation. This complicitous sensi­bility continues to play itself out in his multifaceted experimentations with art from oil on canvas to digital prints.

Secondly, SenGupta's art explores the notion of narrati­ve. Take for example his series of abstractions called "Inscribed Surface". What strikes one upon encountering these works is a bleeding of colours against a rumination of narrative texts (evidenced as calligraphic etchings). SenGupta's works draws the viewer to not so much "read" but to experience the flow of energy between the dual worlds of the contemporary and the traditional. Yet, the flows are contained and mapped against a topogra­phy of geometric forms (in many instances as triptych forms) that dissect and contain the stories. In Inscribed Surface-Vishma, an embattled my tho-historic figure from the Mahabharata is straddled vertically across three spaces of the canvas, while horizontally stretched out to the three worlds of the conscious, subconscious and spiritual. Here we see human life, working within the confines of culture and social practice framed within a continuum of time-space.

Thirdly, self-preservation. The concept of self-preserva­tion is most potent when one sees the world within a time-space continuum as a fundamental means of mapp­ping genealogies. SenGupta's almost hieroglyphic textu­ring of his canvas with suggestions of figurative forms, for example in the work The Page Yellow, he provides the viewer to engage with the past and present as an intertextual dialogue between the colour yellow and written language. In anthropomorphizing the colour and text, SenGupta reveals the omniscience of yellow as a spiritual, all-consuming form and the written word as a spiritual archive and all-dictating form. Both become, for SenGupta social, cultural, philosophical and ideological compasses leading to a continuum of preservation amidst globalization.

This exhibition of the works of Amitabh SenGupta is a welcome opportunity to pause and re-assess contempo­rary art practice from India. The exhibition demands and deserves focused attention not because it presents essential characteristics of art from India that needs to be explored, understood or for that matter promoted. In fact, this exhibition provides a window of opportunity to study the changing representations of art, identity and self-preservation in contemporary world as it unfolds in the epic stories embedded in the rhythm and pulse of Amitabh SenGupta's work.

Venka Purushothaman
Singapore, 5 Oct 2006
Venka Purushothaman is an art writer based in Singapore.

 

SCRIPTING LIVES: PAST, PRESENT AND TIMELESS
Dr. Seema Bawa
Art Historian

Amitabh SenGupta’s latest show titled Inscriptions; fourteen paintings from his ongoing series are on display. The artist’s main concern in this series is to explore pictorial as well as intellectual space through “script as a form, as well as a metaphorical content”.
Gordon Childe observed that one of the defining moments in the transition from Neolithic Era to urbanism was the invention of the script, for it heralded not only the beginning of writing per se, but also of long term memory and knowledge, preserved, collated and controlled by the elite. Thus script and inscriptions have a very real significance in the creation, dissemination and knowledge of cultures and histories. Language itself has adapted to the limits of script. It expands the scope of and the boundaries of expression and memory not only in temporal terms but also in the scope that it possesses. Through primordial scratches, signs and pictographs to language, man enters into a non-verbal exchange that signifies power, authority, knowledge, narrative of time and space. Amitabh is fascinated by this aspect which allows a person or a community not only to create its ideas, thoughts and structures but also to innovate with these. Rote is limiting, writing and rewriting allow for greater freedom to change, transmute and invent. Thus script becomes an “abstract expression of man’s emotions, observations and inherent creativity” and a very significant mode of communication.
These epigraphs inscribed on tablets, stone, palm leaves and copper plates became the repositories of a people’s beliefs and cultures. Amitabh has used the format and visual impression of these formats in his paintings, some appearing like inscribed walls, others like a page from a pothi manuscript and yet another seem to be a heraldic proclamation.
The artist has used ancient and medieval scripts: Ashokan Brahmi, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Tankri, Chinese and Persian, with great exactitude. However, it is not the words that the alphabets form that are significant in the paintings; rather these words and lines provide a window inviting the viewer to enter into the artist’s interpretation of the same. As the artist states, “my studies with ancient scripts are now merged into my memory, not to re-state them any more, but to find the same process of dialoging with life and nature.” A painting that is deeply suggestive of this process is Layers of Life; the façade of a building with an arch fronted by railing like grid and topped by a nondescript nishana, motif, superimposed by inscriptions. While one can read references to architectural history in this work, it is the conglomerate of forms that is the substratum which reveals the artist’s play with familiar representations.
In this series he creates pictograms through the use of the script. Where for him “creating script is indeed man’s process of ‘painting’ – creating forms from nature.” Form in his paintings exists purely as qua form and these forms merge with created environments of ‘script-like textures’. With actual and simulated scripts, he seeks to imaginatively enter and contend with a spatio-temporal continuum of the past and the continuing present. These forms are viewerly; they tell stories, stories and myths, gods and heroes that merged at a time when revelatory scripts were shaped, borrowed and re-shaped. Lines of scripts at the morphic stage in his works, such as the Wish Tree and Scripts and Displaced Life, shape into human form, animal or machines and become contemporary metaphor of displaced life, or life anywhere. The anachronistic displaced ancient scripts get re-introduced or re-placed as if under a contemporary aegis dialoguing as they are with signifiers that seem in disjunction to their contexts.
The power of the written word and the impact of an image interspersed with these words are evoked in Manuscript of a Deity. The iconic image of Durga, the great goddess dominates the foreground, while the background of lines and sentences conjures up the Devi Mahatamaya and other texts in one’s mind. Scripture derived form script, reinforces the idea of the powerful word, where the religious and the ritual is defined by image and text negotiated by the elite and believed by the faithful. However, at another level it is not the narrative of the goddess, but the idea of the goddess in the Indian psyche that the artist is invoking. For him the myths, deities and their narratives in inscriptions and manuscripts are what appear on the surface; recorded for posterity to be read and reread. At the primordial level they reflect the cultural matrix from which they emerge and within which they are transformed and transcended. Such excavation and revelations of power structures is revealed in the tablet like paintings Script on Yellow and the Grid of Life.
A study of his work Ascending to Life reinforces the above statement. It is rich in allusions to Christian mythology and art historical tradition where the Ascension of Christ has oft been painted. However, Amitabh’s work indicates towards a realm that is pre knowledge, where the outlined basic geometric structures ascend towards the eye, the eye of knowing, of prescience, life force.
In his paintings, “scripts and script-like space are defined as lines that move into colour space and textures of nature”. Colour and Script and Script on Yellow demonstrate the manner in which colour is of crucial importance to his works not only as a background or which differentiates and accentuates forms, but as a ‘signifier’. The luminescent siennas, umbers and rusts are painted over with primary colours to illuminate black painted lines of scripts.
As a certain narrative of human history unfolds through the “scripts” in his works, the existential angst of contemporary life as if peels through. Where lines symbolize bucolic nature or the pastoral – sun, birds, animals, or man’s dreams/ideas in pictographs, lines also bring out meaninglessness, nausea and the loss of a transcendent signifier. They represent displaced people, the agony of absurd routines and shifting lives in contemporary society.
In the present series Amitabh Sengupta deconstructs the written word and its medium, the script, down to its constituent political and cultural structures to reveal the inherent form that is beyond time and space continuum.

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THE JOURNEY OF SCRIPT
DR. Ashrfi S. Bhagat
Art Historian

Amitabh SenGupta a scholar, and versatile artist, based in Kolkota has journeyed through his conceptual realistic framework to logically arrive at quasi abstraction. I use the term abstract not in the Greenbergian sense of formal appraisal of the artwork as an autonomous organism but a historically and culturally contingent social product. Amitabh in his recent series of works interfaces with scripts sourced from various or a particular culture, to mark it as a dominant trope. The script per se is a visual abstraction and is incomprehensible if not related to a culture from within which it emerges. Evidently scripts possess linear character with juxtaposition and integration of various lines to create an abstract complexity, yet carrying meaning within itself. Amitabh in relating to scripts through his redefinition and reinvention is opening up space to define culture as lived memory which can be translated as power of mind and space. That is, the trace of culture acquired from past experiences allows him through his contemporary sensibility to articulate ideas in the present as memory traces, impressions or images.
Within the history of India’s modernity, script had served as a seminal breakthrough for K.C.S. Paniker, at a crucial juncture in the 60s through his ideology of nativism. He emphasized the regional character by interpolation with the Malyalam script. Hence in a rich and diverse Indian culture, the plenitude of artistic inspiration from cultural and traditional topography will continue to evoke creative responses from its contemporary artists.


JOURNEY THROUGH REALISM

The reference to memory inevitably implicates the notion of time and space, and these concepts have dominant valence in Amitabh’s oeuvre. Cultural memory, historical time and artistic or painterly spaces integrate to configure not only his conceptual framework, but also offer a source for the progress in determining the shift of his conceptual paradigm. This shift is towards the use of script, a visual abstraction that becomes a polarity to his earlier series of works premised on realism.
Painterly space has a capacity to evoke ‘a moment’ in time. And time for Amitabh is mainly the present which is accessible and a living reality in process of change. The mention of painterly space or illusionist space is a glance towards Amitabh’s earlier works premised on the realistic style but suffused with a surrealist aura. Realism as a stylistic mode translates to a response and recognition with the world - natural, constructed or virtual. The modernist styles - impressionism, postimpressionism, cubism etc -  for the artist therefore holds no fascination, premised on scientific discoveries of renewed investigation concerning the physical structure of space and space-time in forms in art. And to keep away from these influential stylistic modes is testimony to Amitabh’s individuated approach and vision.
It therefore comes as no surprise that his realism particularly in rendering architecture and interiors, or archaeological monuments evokes verity bordering on photographic realism. Amitabh therefore pursues his desire of the living moment; marginalizing the hi-fi visual technology medium and other modes to stubbornly and passionately adhere to a realistic style, that demands not only patience but also total facility and dexterity in drawing and rendering. And in this respect emerges as an artist committed and dedicated, with a single minded approach in articulating his creative expressions.
In visualizing his concepts, Amitabh has mediated through two crucial elements memory/time and space, within which, the subject in his painting lives. More important, the concept of space contains representation relying on optical impressions and an encounter with conceptual ideas. Amitabh carries the viewer on a journey of remembering, expressing, feeling, and experiencing. The subject matter is tangible and abstract, material and metaphorical. His paintings explore the politics of memory that is making representations that has valence of sentiments or the presentness.  A comprehensive analysis of his oeuvre will clarify his passionate approach to representational verity in rendering architecture, recreating forms and elements that make his canvases come dynamically alive. Progressing and developing his ideas further, Amitabh collated architecture with time and historical memory; with his paintings depicting rock cut monuments and other historical structures ravaged by time as well humanity. It is through the exploration of the tangibility of a perceived and embodied space particularly in depicting the historical monuments, that the canvases breathes life dominated by transparent build up of layers of paint. Instead of a superficial fascination with the play of light as refraction and reflection in objects that is characteristic of the Dutch Renaissance, he has expanded to fill the image space with light, manipulated through the transparency of layered paint; and developing it into a comment on the essence of space itself. The layering is metaphorical requiring decoding. According to Amitabh, “The motion of time is undeniable and intriguing. The zone between the present and the rest are nothing but metaphors of motion – a flying colour, deep shadows emerging into transparent zones and then known myths are recreated. My canvases are but such phantasm”. He becomes a superb stage manager for the control of artistic specter opening space for nostalgia to come into play. The nostalgia translates to memory in historical and cultural time, and is suffused with feelings, sentiments and emotions, conflating his conceptual approach to painting.  An inherent complexity undergirds his paintings communicated through sizzling choreographed, tactile and evocative textures and orchestrated juxtaposition of colours. Hence memory or time for Amitabh becomes a dense core; important also in marking a sense of the continuity of the self/identity, of the relation between mind and body, and of experience through time.
His remembrances of personal experiences profoundly impacts to conflate with his self and identity. Identity nevertheless is the offspring of time and memory - that is, as a matrix constituted by the experience of memory on one axis and by the experience of time on the other. Art is therefore transformed to represent a form of prosthetic or artificial memory through history as a medium, which effectually contributes to a shifting perspective of human identity and reality. Amitabh therefore has woven a fabric of prosthetic culture over time with the warp and weft of his experiences.



SPATIAL REPRESENTATION: SCRIPTS AND INSCRIPTIONS

Amitabh’s arrival of his visual language to quasi abstraction is the significant cascading process of his earlier style and subject. It was while recuperating from an operation when in Vellore that Amitabh consciously and seriously turned his gaze to script as an artistic inspirational source. In a museum he saw carved and inscribed slabs of stone. In the Gingee fort he came across the same profusion of Tamil inscriptions. So the script did not emerge mystically as a vision; rather he had been observing it earlier on historical monuments as well as in illuminated manuscripts. These were not only his scholarly pursuits but also artistic. Having internalized them over a period of time, and as an artist in constant pursuit of seeking the new and different, the script morphed to become his inspirational bias. The script therefore served as a point of reference, becoming an artistic trope to enable a development of methodical stylistic vision for his quasi abstract. It therefore is a logical product of his methodology of work.
Through engagement with scripts, the saliency of his compositional abstraction gains valence, marking an intellectual premise that had set the civilizational culture of the ancients on a high pedestal, to become the first milestone for the history of civilization. Interrogating the formal character of script which carries at its heart the inherent capacity of knowledge generation, Amitabh through juxtaposition with signs, cryptic pictographs, symbols and metaphors as lotus bud and stem encircling the human head gesturing towards the dawn of creation and hence the story of man is attempting to hold the lived moment. Since the formal character of script demands a decorative space, Amitabh has transcended beyond his three dimensional illusionist space to create the irreducible reality.
The concept of space in the twentieth century is one that mirrors views of space and vision from myriad of perspectives. Historically painters ironically created space, but twentieth century painters had to work hard to create abstract space in paintings. In the instance of Amitabh, his abstract or decorative space has grown out of his painterly or illusionist practice.
Relating to his series on scripts, says Amitabh, “The journey of script is man’s story. Inscribed surface is all about that”. An analysis of his works reveals not only an intellectual complexity but also a spatial one. The inherent abstraction arises out of his words juxtaposed with linear cryptic forms that bear resemblance to the industrial topography of an urban metropolis. Structuring his compositions is the grid that offers a division of space as so many activities which continue to tell their own tales. In addition there are astrological symbols and incognito words scribbled to create a decorative pattern. This approach to art making is a celebration of artistic intentions bearing close affinity to the Conceptual artists of the 1960s. The words do not convey any inherent concepts rather they inscribe time through memory. And it is here that Amitabh’s works mark a posture of difference, since he extends to collate cultural as well contemporary memory signaling an approach that combines tradition and modernity which enriches the visual semantics of his well thought out composition. The play of script, i.e. Tamil, Bengali, Prakrit, Sanskrit or any other; enhance the image dynamics by weaving a thread of connectivity to tradition and history. This then translates as experiences through his modern sensibility as an approach to art making. Many of his compositional formats bear affinity to traditional illuminated manuscripts.

Within the parentheses of post modernity, Amitabh breaks down grand narratives to inscribe his individuality. His works construct a monolithic saga through words which conjoin to construct his individuated myth or a story, translated through his artistic language of abstraction. The scripts become cognitive scaffolding within his decorative space, propping up images and forms that have a strong connectivity to ancient world as that of the Egyptians or the Greeks.

The introspective and binary artistry of his compositions is made apparent in various ways. A contrast of broad brush strokes juxtapose with fine and detailed forms, linearity with painterly forms, harmonious with virulent hues, structuring into grids of details with larger spatial organizations and the transparent with dense layering . These features remain the salient facet of his works. Further his works have the capacity to evoke an emotional response in a viewer, inviting an interaction and thus initiating a dialogue. The intensity of his images strikes the emotional chords in the viewer; foregrounding various social realities, natural and man made disasters having the potency of engaging the viewer to visually amble through pictographs and linear marks. Enhancing and reinforcing the visual appeal are the colours - rich, warm, friendly inviting, invigorating and interesting.

Through dominant engagement with script, Amitabh is once again configuring a different story of man’s journey through time.


SELECT SOURCES
Metroplus The Hindu November 14th 2007, Giridhar Khasnis
Http://plato, Stanford,edu/enteries/memory/#2.1

Ms. Ashrafi S. Bhagat M.A., M.Phil, Ph. D. is an Art Historian. She heads the Department of Fine Arts Stella Maris College, Chennai.  She writes on modern and contemporary art in newspapers, magazines and journals.

 

'I want my paintings to be thought-provoking, not pretty. In an era of technology, the meaning of beauty is changing ... I see beauty in a negative perspective,' says Amitabh Sengupta. ANJALI SIRCAR profiles the artist.
A SENIOR painter from Calcutta, Amitabh Sengupta, returns to the city with new paintings on display at "Artworld". These works have overlapping images of his earlier series - "Interiors and Exteriors", "Walls" and "Surface of Time". There is no specific story, no specific man but quite a number of the canvases and watercolours, which when seen together, point towards a theme - human life. The symbols on the pictures never seem to leave the level of man's sensate existence. Undefined forms, forms that snarl in reality tell about the life of man in transience. Or whatever the viewer's eye sees in them. He has not, therefore, titled these works.
Sengupta has had a distinguished career in art. He took his degree from the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Calcutta, went to Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux in Paris on a French Government scholarship and subsequently, went to study at the State University of New York under a UNESCO Fellowship. Between 1977 and 1987, he worked as head of the faculty of visual arts in two Nigerian universities and also studied at the State University of Buffalo, U.S.. In his paintings one can see the reflection of western sophistication that blends with strong, indigenous impulses.
A cerebral painter who is not swayed by what he sees on the surface, there is a deliberate attempt on his part at disturbing the superficial identity of objects till he accepts absurdity as real and surprise as an essential factor. He believes that meaning is a happening caused by much deeper and more intense actions begun in an infinite zone - beyond his control.
The artist wants to depict the inherent contradictions in today's world. Terms such as globalisation and liberalisation are creating various cultural identities like masks and we are changing these masks at our convenience. The same man who is very traditional, suddenly becomes modern. This is a reflection on society.
Elaborating on this theme, he says: "In our life, which is nothing great, no true change is happening. There are various elements coming in the form of change but their rhythms and purposes are not clear to many people. For example, you may find people whose daily routine has not changed for 30 or 40 years - in fact they have become poorer - but they see elegant houses coming up, posh cars coming in and out and shops glittering with glossy goods. This kind of urban life creates inherent contradictions. The paintings I do now, while trying to define a recognisable logical environment, come out with the most illogical shapes which negate this environment and cry out, as though, for a choreographer who will appear and tell them how to bring about an order to their chaotic life. This expectation is a kind of speculation - a hypothetical assumption."
He makes his point that the man who is waiting for any change to happen, stands outside the power group which is playing its own role in society. People who have the power are not waiting - they are acting and changing things but their action does not touch the life of the common man. The artist would not like to make an ideological statement and hold anything against any class of people. Society, as a whole, is responsible for this state of affairs, and society is not an institution or a leader. It is a totality, and the success or failure of man is part of this totality.
Yet he will not put the stamp of finality on his opinion of society and people. He does not believe that any such commentary can be absolute. "As I have included my observations in my paintings, I also believe that my audience will observe my work, develop hypothetical views and create their own explanations. It is quite legitimate for the audience to develop their own meanings. Even if these are beyond my meaning, I would not mind so because the main purpose of my painting is not sending out a message but creating a pictorial record. My visual language and forms have the liberty to get away from the exactness of my opinion and enter some obscure or unknown areas".
As a painter he has discovered that the studio is a versatile, meditative area where many ideas take shape. Some of them are realistic, some of them do not exist in the room but elsewhere, in the imagination and they do not explain themselves quite so obviously. Known ideas and objects get mixed up with unknown ideas and objects and pass on into the paintings, thereby transforming apparent reality into a point of reference. It is like a sojourn from canvas to canvas, from watercolours to prints, tempera and mixed media.
He has stopped thinking that his works have to depend only on exploring techniques. Styles and techniques are appropriate vehicles for certain ideas - never to be conspicuous or imposing. He searches for essential materials, straightforward and less distracting from the flow of his work. He often deviates from the academic style of three-dimensionality and switches over to the two-dimensional flat space. The use of enamel paint over oils heightens every original combination. Watercolours are derived from the staining process - he does not begin painting with any specific idea - and gradually the stains bring out forms which he follows and develops, and a theme grows. In some of the watercolours, nature is slowly enters as also human faces - at the same time, various symbols such as funnels and telephones get superimposed on them indicating that the stability of man is being disturbed by a continuous invasion of ideas and information received from his surroundings. His human beings are thereby tortured, confused and angry.
"I want my paintings to be thought-provoking, not pretty. In the new technological situation, the meaning of beauty is changing. I do not need the exactness of the earlier harmony - I see beauty in a negative perspective and it is important to create good art in such a situation for this will give us a kind of strength to understand and appreciate what is positive and powerful."
Born in 1941, Amitabh Sengupta has exhibited his paintings in all reputed galleries in India and abroad. His works are held in private and public collections.

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AMITABH SENGUPTA'S WALL
Pranabranjan Ray
Art writer, Kolkata.

When users used the wall as surface for making marks, inscribing signs, signals and indicators, positing images and designs, writing lettered message and spewing graffiti, they never usually took into account the fact they were using the wall surfaces made with specific materials. In fact, before modern times, the choice of materials and methods was convenience-governed. The chosen medium would only have a functional, rather than meaningful role. When, in the modern times, dis­courses began to be constructed around the essential sensory features of the art of painting (and drawing), attention was turned to the wall as the primordial two-dimensional surface. Paradoxically once again, the dis­course on the issue, carried out from the fifties of the last century, through art practice, was never on the wall. The walls of different materials were only simulated on canvas surface. The discourse was initiated by post-war abstract surrealists. Matta's interest in "automatic wri­ting" and Antonin Tapies' in human mark-making on nat­ural and rudimentary surfaces took them into research and use of their findings as inputs in their creative out­put.

When the twenty-five years old Amitabh SenGupta, a craft-of-painting skilled graduate from the Government College of Art of Kolkata, landed in Paris, in 1966, on a French Government scholarship, with a smattering acquaintance with the alien language and little spare money to entertain himself, he would shut himself up and try to paint. But he did not like to paint in the manner he was taught in Kolkata. So, on stretched and pri­med canvas he would inscribe graffiti, write a line or a stanza of a poem from memory or compose on canvas bit of a poem, or would write an intimate letter to a friend which he never intended to send. In other words, he was using the canvas as a diary. He does not remem­ber if that involvement with graffiti and intimate writing on canvas was the effect of viewing Matta's and Tapies' work, then much in circulation in Paris. At least, he was not consciously inspired by their concern. What really inspired him, at that point, was the use of light, shade and shadow by Ingmar Bergman, in his films, that ten­ded to enhance and reduce physical space, when light melted down solid walls and when shadows became like rock-walls, respectively. Walls, more than their use as surface, would keep on engaging Amitabh's gaze for some time. His gaze at the wall, as surface, would come much later.

After a year of second stay in Paris, in 1976, Amitabh went to Nigeria, on a teaching assignment and stayed there till 1988. In self-chosen exile in an alien environ­ment Amitabh had to spend long hours indoors. Interiors with walls returned to him in a big way; walls with closed doors and walls with gaping holes leading to dark inte­riors. It was there and then his gaze began to graze the fibre patterns and the man-made scratch-marks on the wooden walls, albeit without concentration. However, along with walls as structural entities, in his paintings, Amitabh began to treat walls also as receptacles of phe­nomenon indicators, images and lettered texts. Slowly, the walls, he represented in his paintings, began also to appear as surfaces which changed their colours, tones and texture, on being affected by weather, light and age. Although by the time he came back to India, Amitabh had convincingly been dealing with the theme of the wall, both as a structural entity and as a surface; his was a concern different from his predecessors'. His concern was parallel to theirs.

Through his use of tonally graded colours and colorist creation of surface texture, Amitabh establishes himself not only as a painter who can sensuously represent vari­ations in atmospheric light and weather, but can also create the feelings these varying natural conditions impart. And, he does all these without caring for the nat­urally available colours of the objects of the phenomenal world. Concurrently, in resorting to tonalities, for per­ceptual effects he never resorts to the renaissance con­cept of light from single source illuminating different objects differently, in the path of its travel.

Wall for Amitaoh ceases to be an obstruction, after a point. To the viewers Amitabh's walls cannot cause any claustrophobia. On the other hand, they often give a fee­ling of liberation.

Pranabranjan Ray
Kolkata, July 2006
Pranabranjan Ray is an art writer based in Kolkata.

     
Copyright © 2010 Amitabh SenGupta.