Abstract ideas, conflicting thoughts, rejected drafts, sketchy outlines, works under construction, the notes in the margins, unprocessed plans, incomplete verses and the warm-up before a performance are conventionally deemed unfit to be viewed by an audience. The rugged bolt and screw that hold up the elegant tower are concealed in order to sever the tower from all associations with its building process. It is these rugged fittings and unfinished sentences that Anupam Sud brings out in her exhibition titled Preparatory Assertions: Notes from Sketchbooks. In bringing her sketchbook into the gallery space, Sud explains the impetus, inspiration and preparation behind the final product. The daily doodling of an artist -- sometimes random and other times self-probing -- is a peek into the artist's preoccupations and careful and laborious development of style. Anupam Sud demystifies the process that goes into the production of a work of art. This leads the audience into a space where the artist can be witnessed conducting an interior monologue with herself.
Anupam Sud, Untitled, 12" x 9.5", Mixed Media on Paper, 1997; Courtesy of the artist and Latitude 28
Sud paints several portraits of people, including herself — a practice commonly associated either with the exercise regime of fine art school students or commissioned professional artists. Using soft shades and aquous fluidity, most of Sud's displayed drawings have a distinctively blurry quality to them. Her pen and pencil sketches, however, display a certain firmness generally associated with her figure drawings. The exhibition displays her extensive study of line and form of the human figure. While she pays special attention to technical mastery, Sud does not sacrifice the subjectivity of the person whose portrait she paints.
Anupam Sud, Untitled, 6" x 5", Mixed Media on Paper, 1996; Courtesy of the artist and Latitude 28
Sud paints women in bottles and foetal positions signifying the confinement and social regimentation and restrictions that women and their bodies are subjected to. Both the stringent discipline required for an ideal shape, size, and colour as well as the mandatory procreative duty of woman has to borne by her body. The artist explores the various possible moods and modes of a woman's body - passionate in its embrace with her lover, sagging in the melancholia of separation from the lover, relaxed in contemplation, erect in the yogic position. She paints the female body, mostly nude, and plays around with the differing gazes of the women- frontal, averted, playful, coy.
Not only does Anupam Sud's exhibit of sketches question the notions of what may be considered worthy of galleried presentation but also our conception of what constitutes a final work of art. The sweat, grime and constant retakes that constitute the rehearsal for a flawless final performance are celebrated here. She reconnects the work of art with its umbilical cord, opening up a world of contradictions and the indeterminate that have gone into the making of the cohesive and consistent image it finally stands as.
-- Manjari Kaul, a writer living in New Delhi.
(Image at top: Anupam Sud, Untitled, 11" x 6", Watercolor on Paper, 2002; Courtesy of the artist and Latitude 28)