Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A ‘painter of people’

Sudhir Patwardhan engages into a deep dialogue through his work that addresses issues of materiality, isolation and fragmentation. He enters the chaotic cityscape and scenes from the bustling street with unmatched sensitivity and intensity.

His treatment of the diverse subject matter - whether it be stripping the human figure to its bare essentials, or painting a landscape - carries a sense of asceticism. He is keen to take the viewers beyond the surface tensions and noises of one of the world’s most densely populated, largest and most energetic metros, namely Mumbai, engaging then in a probing encounter with it.

Sudhir Patwardhan’s works explore with finesse the urban milieu of dramatic transformation, dislocation, anonymity and alienation. His artistic approach has a striking similarity marked by a subtle difference with that by fellow artist Gieve Patel. The two together showcased their work at Bose Pacia, NY, in 2006.

Bringing out the core of their respective practice, Gieve Patel had explained: “He was influenced by Marxist philosophy, with a deep urge to speak for the marginalized. I though, never wanted to speak on behalf of others. If he is the spokesperson, I'm the witness.”

Analyzing Sudhir Patwardhan’s work, The New York Times art critic Holland Cotter, has mentioned in an essay: “His painting might well be considered a form of Socialist Realism, sans ideological hard-sell or an agony-orecstasy tone. Instead, the artist depicts day to day, unprivileged urban lives with a solidity of form along with deliberateness of pacing, which imbue even crowd scenes with a ceremonial, moral weight.

“This holds true even in a beautiful new picture of an artist sitting in front of a drawing in his studio. He looks grave and sunk in thought, perhaps about work done, or not done. The shapes of pastel-colored buildings outside his window get reflected in the glass doors of a cabinet, to form a marvelous abstract composition. It’s an unasked-for gift from the street, a reward for being attentively alive.”

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