“Larger than life” that is the first impression that Dileep Sharma’s latest body of work invokes. Bright flat colours scream for attention, bold against pristine white backgrounds. Technically and stylistically, this show represents a remarkable feat for an artist who started out as a printmaker. Indeed, as Sharma says, it is a conscious shift. Thematically, Sharma’s sports figure subjects are uber-contemporary, oozing pop-iconic charm. The artist manages, with his effortlessly smooth and deft brushstrokes, to depict the cultic image that sports figures have become today. Flaunting the brands they promote, flanked by chirpy cheerleaders, these men and women from the world of sports seem to wear their attitude-larger than life-on their sleeves, with flamboyant panache.
Sharma chooses to focus on the dynamic and dramatic changes in the field of sports, both on and off the field, as well as the gradual blurring of these once-separate realms. His work is a satirical take on sports figures who are today recognized more for their activities off the field than on it. The frenzy associated with the games, often synonymous with the hype and emotion surrounding individual figures, is also portrayed neatly. The demi-god status of these icons is amplified through the positioning of smaller surrounding figures literally looking up at them in dazed wonderment. For all their mythic proportions, they are mired in realism, evident in Sharma’s keen eye for detail in each of the figure’s intricate contours.
Randomly strewn across the exhibition floor were sculpted figures, mostly the lower portions of cheerleaders in provocative postures, hinting at the often seemingly willing objectification of the female body. The exhibition of these bodies in the gallery exemplifies the distractive powers of live bodies on display at the field. In a way, the strikingly loud, even garish, colours (fuchsia pinks and greens are what you take back home) point, unabashedly at the gimmick that the world of sports is reduced to today.
-- Paroma Maiti