Sunday, October 16, 2011

Interview with Devajyoti Roy

Devajyoti Roy is an artist with an unique take on contemporary India. As one reviewer describes it "Though realistic in terms of theme and proportion, the paintings assume metaphorical dimension if seen from the perspective of colour-scheme and use of symbols." 

What I found most interesting about his paintings is how he is able to convey expression and communication between subjects of his painting when the faces are color filled blanks without any features. What the viewer make of that expression or the message being conveyed could well be a Rorschach test. Case in point might be this painting titled Rendezvous

It turns out that Mr Roy is a reader of this blog and that is an honor for me. 

For any readers who live or will happen by Mumbai between Nov 14 -  Nov 20 2011, they can check out an exhibition of his paintings at the Jehangir Art Gallery.
HC : What is uniquely Indian about your art ?

DR:  India is having cultural exchanges with far flung countries since time immemorial and our folk art, crafts all show influences of many schools of art from all over the world. And till recently, Indian artists had been experimenting with the predominant schools of western art quite unabashedly. It is only while choosing subject matters, that our artists remained uniquely Indian.

Yet there had been a few artists like Jamini Roy and later MF Husain, who had shown originality in formative renderings as well.

Development of a new formative style requires development of a language of expression. In my paintings this language is largely developed from the popular iconography of India. You must have noticed pink-coloured Ganesha idols, or the depiction of Lord Ram in blue. No one ever questions as how can a person have such colours. We just accept them. Thus you see, it is possible to use your own colours of fantasy and yet create a comprehensible image.

Nonetheless colours do have their own chemistry and to create a comprehensible image, one has to develop that grammar. Pseudo-realism is all about that grammar. Its origin is Indian, its grammar, perhaps not.

HC: What is your signature - I mean how would someone recognize the artist from your paintings ?

DR: It was in 2002, that had first introduced the Pseudo-realist forms into my paintings and it is now almost 9 years that I am continuing with the style. The Indian art market took some time to get used to this new genre of art but I think people have now started accepting it.

HC : Among modern day Indian artists, who would you consider your inspiration ?
DR:  Jamini Roy is one artist who I admire a lot. At a time, when most Indian artists were experimenting with mainly western styles like cubism and impressionism, here was one man who could develop an uniquely original style of his own. Again for similar reasons, I admire MF Husain, Anish Kapoor and Subodh Gupta.

But while I admire these artists, I am not influenced by them or their styles. In fact the very idea is not to get influenced and do your own.

HC. How easy is it for a young person like yourself establish themselves as a artist in modern day India ?

DR:  Establishing in any creative field always takes time. But the Indian art market is becoming very matured and there is a genuine demand for good works.

The very profile of an Indian art collector is also changing. Unlike in the past, the new collector has good knowledge of what is happening the world over, and has a mind of her own. She does not necessarily buy what her gallery sells her but what she herself thinks is right.

Everywhere around I see people really willing to learn. This had not been so even a decade ago. I have always enjoyed interacting with the new age art collector, who is passionate, questioning and confident.

HC: Have you considered using software such a Photoshop to create art - or perhaps digitally re-imagine what you have created on canvas ?
DR : There is nothing wrong in using modern technological tools in creating artworks. Nonetheless, I prefer the traditional methods of sketching, and then painting with brush.

HC : Who mention irony as one of things you try to convey subtly through your art - do you often find viewers getting your message ?

DR: Of course. I am a prominent obituarist of Post-modernism and shun all kinds of ambiguities in art.

Pseudorealism is a style, where something abstract and unreal gets the appeal of reality. The idea is thus to use abstraction to create a comprehensible imagery. But the key word here is ‘comprehensible’.

That is hallmark of my kind of art. 

HC : What advise do you have some someone who wants to become an artist but does not have the ability to get formal training ?

DR : There are both advantages and disadvantages of formal training. The primary advantage of formal training is that it teaches you all the skills of art in one place. In a formal art school, you also get to learn about art-history, philosophy, etc all under one roof.

But the disadvantage of art schools is that they tend to take away your originality. That is why some of the best known artists in India had benefited by not being in any school. This includes such illustrious names Ravindranath Tagore, Ramkinker Baij, Amrita Shergill, MF Hussain and FN Souza.

So I do not think, not having formal training is much of a handicap. One has to be persistent in what one is doing. It is true for any profession, art included.

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