HYDERABAD: It takes verve and visual wisdom to move away from Bengal School of Art and conjoin the strokes on the canvas with a thought which stands independent and as taut as a freshly carved monument, which over decades, becomes the museum of an artist’s tone and tenacity having recorded the movement within drops the artist chooses to splash. For colourist Surya Prakash, the art exhibition ‘Surya Prakash in Retrospective’ presented by India Fine Art does a bit more than is expected. The show of more than 90 of his paintings throws a light onto the works he’s been doing for years offering him and those who know his oeuvres perspectives observed from a different vantage point.
What appears as a pictorial narration in many of Surya’s canvases is actually a moment caught in its entirety. The image stays free without any disconnect from the lines and dots that permeate it. The 77-year-old colourist explains, “I do not follow any philosophy. I believe an artist should flow with whatever catches his eyes. That’s why most of my works are without any story.” And what he’s talking about is explained through his standalone pieces of creation. His much-famous series on leaves in earthen shades that occupy a space between liminal and autumnal establishes his position as a philosopher of images.
These leaves hang in the air balancing their presence above the ground reminiscent of the British Romantic bard PB Shelley’s work ‘The Cloud’ which focusses on metamorphosis and its stages. It’s not surprising to see the influence of late master-artist Ram Kumar in his technique. “I met Ram in 1965 and studied under him for six months in Delhi,” he says adding that the roots of his works lie in the French Impressionism. No wonder then that his lotus pond series the ‘Pool of Life’ and ‘Dream of Nature’, are quite reminiscent of Monet. The artist, over a period of several engaging decades, has carved his own quintessential style. His artworks of the past 58 years bring forth the grammar of complexity in a subtler manner.
Two years ago at Park Hyatt, 44 digital prints of his artworks were exhibited titled ‘A Retrospective Carnival’ which showcased what he created from 1960 to 2015. Those were on giclee prints. Ask him as to why this exhibition is different from the previous one and he explains, “These all are original ones which is why it is more significant.”
Till mid 60s and early 70s he worked with junkyards as the primal theme in his paintings but gradually his focus shifted to abstract. In a span of 10 years he has painted more than 300 opuses. He used to work in the oil medium, but now has chosen acrylics. As part of the exhibition there are etchings and graphics as well. And he wants students to come and see his works, as he feels: “they are the architects of tomorrow’s art.” So what is he working on these days? “My latest series focuses on visual interest,” he shares. He took trips to several parts of the United States to register the colours of Fall in his upcoming works.
A large coffee table book of his paintings is also to be released at the gallery. Says Manvinder Dawer of India Fine Art, “The collection contains prints of his paintings interspersed with interesting write-ups by several art critics and art-writers.” One of the lines from an essay sums up: “Surya Prakash is, indeed, a renaissance man: a master painter, landscape designer, and muralist; an ambassador of art.”
The exhibition begins today at 5.30 pm in Chitramayee State Gallery of Art and is on till December 23
— Saima Afreen