Ship of Theseus
Enamel Paint, Nails, Copper Wire, Cola Bottle Caps, Metal Eyelets on plywood
96 1/16 x 96 1/16 inches
Kaushik Saha’s rich surfaces of sweeping gestural paint use mark-making techniques of a wide variety. His paint is often poured, dragged, splattered, daubed, scraped - allowed to congeal. In the large works on board the painted surface is often overlaid with zillions of rusty nails hammered on and then conjoined with lengths of copper wire zigzagging through the nail heads. Some of the works have flattened bicycle tyre tubes making up much of the surface on which paint is applied. The humble tubes, a signifier of everyday labour like the nails, and the copper wire, help him build a surface that allows him to camouflage a subversive narrative tableau that lurks within.
Kaushik chooses to be an observer with a sharp eye that draws our attention by sly referencing. His control over the syntax has not led him to smooth out the quirks. An ambitious attempt at bridging the two distinct tendencies, where the quotidian nestles in the lap of the grand narrative of painterliness marks him out. The stylist in him gives life to a style that underscores disequilibrium. His more recent works have become less wrenched by signs of aggression but preserve his penchant for subversive imagery.
In my works, ambivalent layers of personal and urban histories percolate and are rendered visible on the surface as narrative fragments.With a mind that resides somewhere between abstract emotions and tangible objects of the outer world, where the protagonists of these narratives will show up from, is anybody’s guess.
Can the emotional modes of expression and the images that we encounter co-exist in a single frame of painting? The pursuit for answers to this question spread across the negotiations in my work. In a quest for my identity in the practical, physical environment surrounding me, I dig down deep into my psyche. I try to create a world on a canvas with brush strokes, layers of colours-within a kind of pictorial space where land , water, sky can never be distinctly marked out from each other. In fact, I intend to depict rapidly changing time and emotions. These pictures of blurred margins are infiltrated by an array of imagesfloating around. My surprises,amusements,likes,dislikes – all these aspect of the material world also somehow manage to enter into my compositions. These two different aspects often clash with each other creating a contrast or exist in cohesion.
My early paintings portray the vinyl/flex-digital hoardings of my own city. In these works, huge spaces of landscapes were permeated by tiny imageries of billboards or characters from different advertisements. Their juxtaposition ensue a narrative which perforates two different worlds. The construction of hoardings stand like a facade through infiltrating a landscape formed out of colour pigments.
Around 2014, my works changed direction where I tried to create more cohesion between the representations of the outer world and my inner expressive nature. The contrasting imageries found their place in the materials like tire tubes, nails, bottle caps or enamel colours. These materials bearing their own connotations of industrial and consumerist society became components of the cerebral landscapes. The process of meticulously hammering down every nail or tying the copper wires engendered a sense of calmness in me as a result of which my works became more inward looking and abstract.
I often get bored with a fixed format or style of creating art. For me it is imperative that an artist must always search for newer horizons in each and every work. Around 2015 my works looked for another such horizon where I tried to represent the idea of conflicting different spaces and images that are inseparable in our mind. The horizontal textures and other blocky use of pigments suggest the onslaught of virtual spaces in real spaces. In such complicated concoctions images appear at their whims and are more integrated with the spaces. Similar incorporation of the virtual world and consumerist societies are also reflected in the works of 2016 where I attempted to refer to various imageries along with the suggestions of landscape done by using tube tires and nails.
These variations of visual language helped me to negotiate the environment that I encounter everyday and helped me to express them in my terms
Courtesy of Roy Thomas, Kaushik Saha