Uma Nair writes how Sudip Roy’s suite of soft and tranquil watercolours will unveil his romance with the medium at the Chitrak Gallery in Dhaka.
At the Chitrak Gallery in Dhaka Sudip Roy's suite of soft and tranquil watercolours will unveil his romance with this medium that goes back more than 3 decades.
Leaning in close to the side of the frame, peering under his magnificent turban, his eyes are nearly glazed with looking. Sudip Roy's portraits created with lithe watercolours is literally painting in the act. The brush, which he cannot see at this precise moment, is forming a line out of the very watercolour from which it is made. The space left on the white sheet of watercolor paper becomes his sky of contemplation.
Govt College of Art Kolkata's gold medallist Sudip Roy is more than a virtuoso draughtsman, as mush as he is a great technician in oils, acrylics and watercolours, as he continues to challenge himself with quick-drying, no-corrections watercolours over the past 4 decades. These images are life-like. Sudip an itinerant traveller is an artist who always sketches and paints on the spot.
A great lover of JMW Turner's sequence of watercolours, especially those of the Houses of Parliament burning down right before his eyes, as well as the seascapes, Sudip has always wanted to create works that challenge the watercolour world. A tranquil suffuses the sky, whether he gives us a mosque's architectural details, a quiet corner at Kolkata's Victoria Memorial, the man with more than a dozen baskets, the crowd of rickshaws winding down a long road, each scene is a fleeting rendition.
When he creates the ramparts of a fort the brush movements are gentle, the colour contrasts of the stones decadent in their hazy hues, a study of the haunts of history from the corner of his eye.
Still Lifes and Interiors
In India, Sudip is one of the supreme watercolourists of his age, specialising in wet-on-wet paintings in brilliant melting colour. But sheer range reflects his reputation because he blends impressionist strokes to create illusions that gather in the ripples of reality. Lanterns hanging on the wall, small tableaux of still lifes of fruit and the tea stall with its smoky fumes at nights, desert days, a white horse waiting for his master after a long day of gallop, Sudip moves widely in both subject and style.
These quickfire watercolours of Kolkata corners presage a salient quality of abstract expressionism, and in these quiet still lifes, it seems as if he focuses in and out of the scene like a cinematographer. High detail in the green door blends into a fading wall. Over and again, each study seems like a real one-off. In the still life of a gramophone, he shows the moment at which nostalgia streams into the air, apparently unfurling the moments and memories in his hands.
When he sits on the banks of a river in West Bengal, Orissa or even in Goa, the perspective is pristine, the fishermen's boats clear, light and symmetrical in both form and content. The resting boats are the sentinels from the seashore's paradise.
Colour is suspended between sky and river – potential for endless views, the artist's brush is never overloaded. The lithe brown soil that develops using grey or brown wash is like an imaginary myth that unfolds in which the dormant force of the scene of nimbus clouds momentarily contained. Each one of us might see something else. The power of water colour art lies in its inchoate shapes and energies, its multiple possibilities. These riverine scenes all look as if they must be visions, without radiant moons and glimmering stars, but in fact they are intensely particular about the reality of life on the river. Light is the main protagonist for Sudip, it binds landscape and the manmade boats snugly together, and the atmosphere is reverential; look close and you will see a tinier world of detail praised in the rich surface.
The bodies of Sudip's nudes are lithe, liable to levitate with their transparent limbs. Shape-shifters, quiet wraiths, these faceless figures are always tensile as well as lushly evocative. The look is far from heavy, yet each figure is airy, a fragment of outline and strokes that live in the pages of stories told.
The nudes have an atmosphere of a dream. Everything is in perfect order, yet there is no sign of a gardener. While the bodies are far from perfect it is their contours that give it an almost ethereal beauty. Everything is held still and in perfect equipoise – a pale platonic ideal over the moment of the attire that comes off to give us nudes that go back in time to Dutch and Flemish Masters. The human body is a blend of what is natural and abstract, geometric, with few details, a feat of control and tonal delicacy. The sitter's identity is not known, but the character is all there in the acute lines of the torso, the tousled locks, and brushes delicate enough to describe the finest lines, condensing the portraits into a study.