A Place Called City
Charcoal and Watercolor on Paper
58 x 92 in
Urban panoramas and their haphazard growth and deterioration are the references that drive the impulses of Sujith S.N.’s works. Through his works he aspires to explore the abounding organic architectural forms that spring up in an unplanned labyrinth to form the ominous skylines of modern Indian cities. Sujith’s landscapes are vast expanses of bleak shapeless urban terrain with sudden outcrops of structures such as factories billowing smoke, warehouses and towers, in miniature form scattered at random distances. This un-pattern of miniature buildings is inevitably broken with the sudden interjection of a monumental building under construction whose workers once again take on minuscule proportions to blend into anonymity and marginalisation, typical of the murky depths of contemporary urban society. The counterbalance of miniature and out-sized structures possibly serve as collective metaphors for the struggles of loss and gain in urban society with the old being replaced by the new. Influences from 20th century Stieglitz School photographer Ansel Adam’s works are evident in a number of Sujith’s works as they convey similar desolate, reclusive and volatile cityscapes as his 1941 work Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico. Sujith is also strongly influenced by Bosch and Bruegel.
Although his preferred medium of working is water colours, dry pastel and charcoal on paper, on occasion Sujith also experiments with oils on canvas and photography. It is his choice of medium that mostly defines his use of colours in a palette of mostly charred siennas, ochres and grey and he elaborates on the struggles he experiences when suddenly dealing with colours by saying, “Suddenly colours appeared in my scheme. Earlier entering into my work was almost like getting into a tunnel. Whatever bright thing is carried into the space of my drawing, the effect of the work turned to be darkish. Maybe I profusely used black because I could suggest or hide many things. Or sometimes I could also escape without addressing a lot of things. But turning to colour means a fair share of things needed to be clear. Escape acts are difficult then. Fresh colours seemed ‘not mine’ at some stages of doing this work. I had discontinued doing this for some time. But I have certain obsession. That made me work further on it.”
Stains of Stimuli, displayed in 'The Lay of the Land' at Latitude 28, are emotional maps of places that Sujith SN has lived in, from his experience of them, and the impressions they left behind. The vast expanses of sky and landscape in this series of works evoke various states of mind and provide the context for the artist to consider the architectural impact upon lived spaces and the power relations that it signifies. These are visions that come to be triggered by symbolic representations of terrains. To what extent are these associations learned and not organic? For the artist, identity, as it is linked to places is shaped by abstract memories and not easily defined representations of territories. The more one tries to be specific, tangibility becomes even more elusive.
Courtesy of Roy Thomas | latitude28.com