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Title:        Solo show of Vilas Shinde

Dates:      8 - 22 December 2010

Lines of Flight and Enduring Insights:

The current enthusiasm for cool, distanced conceptual strategies threatens at times to transform abstract painting into a purely cerebral understanding. Vilas Shinde reminds us of the pleasures to be found in visual seduction. His abstractions are pulsating markers woven from whiplash lines, coloured fields and an occasional sweep. They glow with an inner richness and trembling of the soul while incorporating the shadows behind them as part of their careening, shifting energy. For all their glitter and neon colours that maintain a certain austerity, these paintings celebrate their artifice, and sweeping brushstrokes seem genuinely felt, warm and intimate. He has an ability to state the most enduring truths in a style that is measured and patiently gathers a luminous energy as we navigate his work inexorably forward.

Shinde’s new paintings speak to contemporary abstraction’s continuing fascination with isolation and depersonalization of the autographic gesture.

Vilas Shinde emerged into the scene when the golden age of Abstract Expressionism is on a swansong, but that doesn’t prevent the gestural from making its claim. For many artists, gesture is no longer embedded in the same pictorial and referential structures from which it drew its original authority. Rather than being the basis for a dynamic compositional system or a clearly labeled marker of the psyche, it has become increasingly autonomous. The works here speak to contemporary abstractions continuing fascination with the isolation and depersonalization of the autographic gesture. Perspective, likewise, goes unexpectedly off-kilter; passages of almost trompe- l’oeil realism give away to swatches of abstractionist markers and pulsations, areas of thick impasto lie side by side with the thinnest of colour washes. And Shinde employs a palette which, if not fluorescent, is keyed up almost to that level, again denying any realism. In Shinde’s vision, each work in the present series is a distillation of a specific moment; an energetic abstraction notable for its fluid brushwork. The body of work subtly suggests their lines advancing into a grand scale full of faintest of incidents. In layers of gestural brushstrokes that suggest movement in space, the artist captures the rich drama of the soul.

The search is spontaneous and a bodying forth of feeling delivering the pleasures of traditional gestural abstraction in a personal or expressive idiom. He pursues a certain personal style but seems to see abstract painting as a field of possibilities to which he is soul is free from any relinquishment and pleasurable hindrances. The big sized canvases have that emphasized field of colour, some of that concentrated on tiny dots and sweep of brush stokes washed by runnels of colour regimes, asserting the physicality of paint and suggesting in the same breath a preoccupation with process. He reminds us that he is also a fascinating and master Printmaker.

His choices are concerned with the questioning aesthetic closure suggested by the now much finalities of natural and illusionistic space which have made up the edifice of modernism. The canvases are replete with images that substitute the external one translating feeling and emotions into a visual language. This painted space has obviously been conjured from the raw materials displayed, yet the illusion is never complete, never seamless. The components here are distilled and then examined as all these fascinate Shinde. His focus is on the subjective apparatus, the point of transformation and the potential for revelation implicit in his consciousness.

The canvas here is first uniformly painted and light is then introduced onto this surface by regular patches of white, green, red ochre’s and then effacing it, which are then usually successively veiled by later application of acrylic. And his inner physicality begins to bleed through barks of red. Like toned varnishes, these subsequent patches not only reduce the whites and make them recede in shadow, but their liquidity responds to the material texture of the canvas and curdles into the weave and seductive lines, restoring its physical presence. Paint is layered yet remarkably fresh, applied in broad brushstrokes so that glimmers of contrasting under painting occasionally break through the expanses of light and shadow or a wind that stirs at midnight, or at noon. The abstraction takes place in quiet harmony. It is distanced and calculated in its conception and allusive effect, but in its execution it is emphatically direct and visceral. The other part of his visual text is his extraordinarily sensitive modulation of tints and shades. After having reduced his colour to no more than a scale of values, he pursues abstract painting with fervour and discipline valourizing the activities of the mind, evaluating, weighing and balancing the relative strengths of all that it encounters in its search for order and the unresolved complexities. The erased areas between them have taken on a new resonance that pushes us to distant figurative markers and set up a rhythm through dots, line and tones. The search is meditative, spontaneous and a bodying forth of feeling delivering the pleasures of traditional gestures. At best Shinde’s paintings engulf the viewer in an expanse of shimmering light. He achieves a cool, detached contemplation of the often turbulent splendour of the nature. But presented to a public gaze, other rare variables present themselves.

Vilas Shinde’s technique is esoteric: over surfaces ranging from single simple paper to canvases he lays down layer upon layer of variously coloured acrylic on canvas and small to medium format pen and ink drawings on paper. Here, wondrous shifts between intellectual processes and explicitly physical activities reunite the cerebral spirit of the mind with the dissolving object into his painted space into nearly effaced out markers trying to hold onto a grain which he builds up in decisive stages of scraping, rollering and distanced markings. This is done without a conscious thought and very quickly. The spontaneous effort is then judged by the artist, and most often it is found unacceptable. Something is off: his balance was wrong, his attention flagged, the mark in some way fell short. If this was the case Shinde immediately squeegeed off and the action repeated for as many time as it takes until he gets it right. The results vary from large in form from the largely vertical stroke to the long diagonal sweep to the small broken marks on his canvas. Where colour has been deployed as a vehicle for expressivity; each canvas serves as a metaphor for meaning and mood. What that meaning is, exactly, we are privy to; but there is no doubting the expansively melancholy emotions behind these works, which somehow give rise to a sublimity of feeling. Yet they also demand to be grasped from a distance, at a remove traditionally associated with disinterested objectivity. In his paper work the sense of a mysterious and somewhat ominous floating in space, combined with the strokes’ disembodied quality gives the paintings an uncanniness and a suppressed charge, a welcome edge of wariness. In one of the painted fields, one sees the darkness rise like a swirl. One also hears an uncertain wind build up and, then, drop. Shinde’s works are clearly flamboyant efforts, but they go beyond a mere display of physical and emotional fine tuning. They address, in a nicely oblique way, some of the present concerns of abstract painting today. The painterly nursing of a case of ‘the awakening of senses’ can be heroic achievement. Though the metaphor of illusion is basic to these paintings here like neutron stars they don’t emit light but keep it in. the compulsiveness of the little gesture out of which they are made lends them a private, even sublime character, and the push of this compulsion against the narrow range of overall effect is what gives Shinde’s paintings their power and mediate upon the final disjuncture between consciousness and the physical world, upon the irreducible commensurability between thought and experience. He pursues a development that is at once instinctive, sensuous and fluid.

Nanak Ganguly, 2010

Gallery Beyond at INDIA ART SUMMIT 20 - 23 JAN 2011 Booth No C 23


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