Review by Sarmistha Maiti
January 20, 2013


Watercolour is one such medium in the field of visual arts that entices its viewers with a dreamscape of something in between the ‘real’ and the ‘illusion’ because the translucent effect of the medium itself creates the poise of ‘feelings’ taking shape within us. So watercolour paintings don’t revolve around the ‘wow’ factor but gets evolved in an intense passionate experience that we take pleasure to see, feel and perceive. And the magic of watercolour has remained unaltered since ages. The impression is soothing; the impact is perpetual – watercolour can be thus tagged so.

Contemporary painters in India vividly practice this medium till date and experiment with it to their own ends. And they do come up with newer heights of execution with this traditional medium with brilliant output adding a fresh denomination to the sphere of art and aesthetics. Baroda-based Indrapramit Roy, is one among them. In his exhibition at Gallerie 88, Kolkata, a series of his recent watercolours gave the viewers an opportunity to feel the scale to which these paintings can invoke us to. Indrapramit has elevated his work of art to an integral philosophy of our times by creating a symbiosis of the content and the medium where the ideation of his works have gone beyond the ‘realistic’, ‘idealistic’, ‘naturalistic’ approach and did not remain ‘being just apt of its time’. His paintings enabled the viewers to move into the space and get involved in the dynamics of the dialectics he has attempted to present through his art justifying the title of the exhibition “Liminal Zone”.

As stated in the concept note of Indrapramit’s show, “At the most literal level his motif is the urban setting; not the city centre itself but more the no man’s land of suburban sprawl. In some images we drift above the urbanscape, while in others we peer voyeuristically into the facade of illuminated but empty spaces. In every scenario there are no living beings to be seen. This is the first clue that we are not looking at empirically observed places but seeing a wistful critique of the dystopian future we are rushing in to headlong…” the angst of the age and the agony of the times and the eternal fear holding life and death together as pre-destined existential predicament came forth through the revelation of each of the paintings hanging on the walls but proclaiming of a great disaster.

“The Mall”, “Fairy Lights – 1 & 2”, “Grey Dawn”, “Desert Morning II”, “The Factory” – the title of a few notable works from the whole series in watercolour on paper, put forward the paradox of urban progress and the congestion of the metropolitan life. But the search of an eternal solace and of that meditative space has to be discovered and found or may be re-created over here only. And that is why Indrapramit’s translucent ‘dream-like’ neon bulbs and the cacophony of urban culture is devoid of human life but not bereft of the scope that life can still be happier one ever and always. The beauty of his works lay in this simple philosophy, ‘Life is Beautiful’, in spite of the anguish of being endangered and alone. It has been well-said about his works that “In these paintings we are given the nearest alternative to the traditional illusion of the picture window that painting traditionally offered the tired mind. But now there are caveats that underscore this potential meditative space. We are endlessly alone, in a liminal zone between natural illumination and the theatrical mirage of artificial lights.”

Indrapramit Roy, a post-graduate in painting from the MS University, Baroda, is also a Inlaks Scholar who study MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art, London. This tenure also included a term each at Cite des Arts, Paris and Hochschule der Kunst, Berlin. He has exhibited his works globally and has had 15 solo shows and more than 70 group shows. And we expect his flight to take a much greater leap in the days to come through his philosophy that doesn’t lament on the loss but teaches us to feel pleasant through the melancholic beauty and re-discover harmony through a gradual process of evolution from within. We look forward to such works more and more!