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Articles on Indian contemporary art by Swapna Vora
day, judgment day
May 01, 2007
(click on the small image for full screen image with captions.)
Chiru offers limbs, muscles, bones cloned with animals, shards of existence, of disaster. There is anger, suffering and chaos, with no well remembered limits, no recognizable boundaries. We momentarily halt and watch the anguish in his works. Are these responses to catastrophes, humanity's disasters, bloodshed, generated violence, mindless mobs?
Chiru prefers things and words to be short and succinct, like haiku, offering a moment of insight and perhaps chaturiya, the fourth state of awareness. His art has dull vermilion, sepia, sienna, umber in huge blocks. There are bones, twisted muscles, tortured ligaments and sinister, frenzied suggestions of human interiors, all deliberately thought out, very painterly. Art straight from his being, his 'antakaran'. What urges him on is necessity, not making beauty. "Painting is not my hobby or my profession. It is me. This is not for my self expression but my compulsion. It has no other function but that I must, like drinking water or doing yoga, something I must do to exist. It is essential for my being."
A few European classical masters, like Vermeer, Velasquez and Rembrandt, please him. "I enjoy their palette, no primary colors, no shocking pink. I too, am very restricted with colors. There is often lots of temptation to be foolish with bright colors but it is like riding on a mad horse. You can't really enjoy yourself, for there is no proper, intelligent action. Yielding to temptation has no proper result. And there is no end to temptation. Meditation is the next stage and yes, the greatest stage. When you meditate, you are unaware of everything extraneous, including your own external self.”
I could not do anything else. This, this painting, makes my life self-explanatory.
If I draw a line, either it is created by passion or else created by
habit, by faith or by doubt. This work is just myself, not self expression,
my position and my view from my perch. I have found my answer and it
does not change, there are no fashions. If you really find your answer,
you need not change, maybe cannot change. A particular ideology, my
understanding, where I am in the whole cosmos, my relationships with
other elements, confirms my place. I do not speak of the whole cosmos
but of this time, this space, this geo-physical situation. But in another
dimension, you are surely in a state of flux, nothing is fixed, there
are no stable boundaries that define one. All is in flux. No difference
between a dog and a tree or a piece of rock and me. Why? Because neither
knows, really knows anything. I do not know where I've come from and
where I'll go. No rationality. When reason has fled, then there is violence
and self destruction. Criminal emotions are at work. How are we then
different from simply being accidents? We are then nearer to animal
existence and hence my paintings are both animal and human. Man still
has to find his own position. By being rational, by using his intellect."
makes me happy. This torment makes me happy. The fight between my faith
and my doubt. Painting is a rigid, stationary activity. This is static
creativity, no life shaking involvement."
spoke of how his father pressed a coin in his palm and then took it
away. What remained? Nothing, said Chiru. His father said he was wrong
because what had remained was the impression, it was not nothing. "Does
nothing remain of all our experiences? No, the feeling remains. No love
ever disappears because its memory remains. Is this something we come
by really exercising our brains and stretching what faculties we do
"Yes, because I have realized, (in a very hard and painstaking way), what I needed in life. We should not waste our life just being alive, in conceptual happiness, for then the curtain falls."
I left with the question I had come with: We who come with a death sentence from the moment we are born, how then with willful abuse of our already limited faculties, how then do we go on to becoming supermen?
Chakravarty is among contemporary India’s most prominent and thoughtful
artists. Born in Faridpur, now in Bangladesh, Chiru Chakravarty studied
briefly at the Indian School of Art, Kolkata. A disatisfied draftsman
with the West Bengal Government, he became a cinematographer in Mumbai
and started showing his work. After an exhibition in 1968, he started
painting full-time. In 1993, he was invited to participate in Gallery
Gaghardi, London, and later in Australia's Gallery Art Sans Frontiere.
He has exhibited with Marc Chagall, Picasso, Dali, etc.
– though often termed as Abstract, Non-representational, Non-objective,
Expressionistic etc. by different critics and reviewers at different times
and occasions, but I still think and believe that I have always been trying
to break these conventional classifications and trying sincerely to create
an unparallel visual structure showing the inner world of emotion, something
surely unrealistic, maybe visionary, may or may not