My engagement with mysticism began from listening to a song by Rabindranath Tagore where he describes himself as a traveller who has lost his way. Tagore’s poem found a new meaning in my heart, the word “Thou” is normally referred to God, but I realized, one of the many abstract forms of connecting to the Almighty is travelling. These mystic travellers who are on a journey without a beginning and an end become the main characters of my painting through listening to poetry and songs. The songs of Sufis and Bauls attracted me and dragged me helplessly towards this mysterious path. That the goal of their wanderings is the cosmic joy of existence only became clear to me through their songs.
The element of my painting concerns spirituality translated through research and revival of ancient traditional techniques, methods and motifs from Sub continental traditional culture. Taking inspiration from this mode of narration, I thought of assembling different frames of my thoughts and emotions into smaller panels and creating an ensemble to narrate different stories. When these panels come together, they invoke a completely different effect of meditative stillness because the narrative runs through not only the horizontal or vertical axis, but relates in every direction of the multi-perspective space arrangement.
From ‘Pata’ scrolls, try to reformed the cinematic way of story-telling, but with that, joined a multi perspective vision of the Indian miniature painting. In some panels, try to explore, and implement Japanese techniques of fragmenting the whole figure by letting the frame cut the figure into a part, leaving its further journey towards infinity, to the imagination. Paintings are an aggregate of several panels structurally depicting fragmented experience, rupture of time and space of modern times.
Presently I am in the pursuit of abstracting form from the formless, drawing constantly from the boundless variety of nature to arrive at an iconic visuality. Reflections on nature and the resulting astonishment drives me to depict them as narrations: memories and incidents related to a particular full-moon night for example: the narration stretches from the personal to the collective and universal. The metaphorical love-play of Radha and Krishna with their consummation on the full-moon night, the Puranic narrative of the Moon-God taking refuge in Shiva’s dreads to save himself from a curse; surface in my artistic imagination as I ponder over the beauty of nature at night.
Like a traditional story-teller I narrate history, Puranas and stories of historical and mythical individuals! The characters in the composition, the intensity of their relationships: structural as well as emotional, get defined by figuration. Never is it possible to strip the artist from his origins- tradition and history I can sense, moving through my veins, finding silent expression in every pulsation. And so, like a traditional story-teller I narrate history, Puranas and stories of historical and mythical individuals! The characters in the composition, the intensity of their relationships: structural as well as emotional, get defined by figuration. Thus, my figurative execution makes the narrative frame representational.
- Poushali Das