One of the most massive shows of this year is likely to be Paresh Maity’s current solo at the Lalit Kala Akademi. Hosted by the Art Alive Gallery, the show follows close on the heels of the Jayasri Burman retrospective and book release held by the gallery at the same venue a month and a half back. Taking off on similar lines, this show extends the exhibit of Paresh’s paintings and the accompanying book launch by also displaying sculptures, installations, photographs, and films by the artist.
But apart from the variety of mediums, what prompts me to term this exhibition “massive” is that nothing in the show seems ordinary or life size, be it the gargantuan canvasses stretching from ceiling to floor, the larger than life sculptures of ants, or even the hefty book on the artist released along with the show opening. The works are composed of broad swathes of colour – brilliant reds, pure and bold hues of blue and greens – lending credence to Paresh Maity’s fame as a colourist. The exhibit attempts to bring all the travel-oriented works of the artist together in a single show. Paresh Maity, as the catalogue explains, is an avid traveler who frequently undertakes long journeys to distant corners of the world to paint in situ at those locations. The exhibit charts the manner in which the artist has imbibed the influences of different cultures featured in his works. The pieces inspired by Egypt are liberally peppered with sphinxes, pyramids, and faces of pharaohs, while the China series is made up of traditional East Asian water-colour brush painting, à la Hsu Hsi of the T’ang period, and the Mexico series depicts angular faces capped with sombreros, complete with flowing mustaches and ponchos (– “muchas gracias!” – was all the figures needed to say to complete the effect!). One wall of the exhibition space was devoted to paintings from the Venice series – one of Maity’s favorite places as we learn. Perhaps most remarkable of these works is painting of a Venetian panorama with the St. Mark’s Basilica towering conspicuously. These exotic locals are complemented by an extensive series on the different states in India, complete with their own geographic and architectural landmarks.
The novelty of the show lies, however, lies not in the postcard destinations Maity depicts, but rather in the opportunity it affords viewer to see the artist’s works through the decades. The artist’s forte is his bold and unusual use of colour, and the exhibit, which features works from the early stages of his prolific career, offers a rare glimpse into the evolution of his style.
-- Andre B.
(Images from top to bottom: Venice Skyline, The Onlooker, Ashi Ghat. Images courtesy of Art Alive and the artist.)