A propos de l'exposition "Twilight zone " à la galerie POC.
Récemment installé dans la cité d’artistes du Couvent, Sourav Chatterjee, peintre d’origine indienne, est exposé pour la première fois en France les 7 et 8 octobre prochains. L’occasion rêvée d’y découvrir ses œuvres, toutes emplies de spiritualité et de lumière.
Elevé au sein d’une famille d’origine moyenne où les superstitions et croyances dénuées de réflexion philosophique ou mystique sont chose courante, Sourav Chatterjee est animé d’une lumière intérieure nourrie par sa spiritualité puisée dans les anciens textes sacrés de la littérature sanskrite.
Artiste se passionnant tout à la fois pour l’art, le cinéma, les lettres modernes des cultures orientales et occidentales, Bach et Giotto, les peintures de l’Inde classique…il y puise les racines de son savoir, de sa vision élevée du monde et des hommes qui anime la lumière qui est en lui et qui jaillit de son âme pour inonder ses toiles où prédomine le beau.
De grande taille, les toiles de Sourav sont une savante et talentueuse conjugaison d’eau et de pigments qui transcende des outremers opaques et intenses, emplissant les œuvres de sagesse et de sérénité, les imprégnant de profondeur, de rêve et de mystère tout en concrétisant un puissant écho à la vie, au monde et à ce qu’il a de plus esthétique et de plus sacré. Symboles de pureté et de vérité, les œuvres de l’artiste nous emmène en voyage au sein de son univers, un univers qui empli de calme et qui nous permet de retrouver notre équilibre intérieur.
Un artiste à découvrir et dont la compréhension de la démarche artistique nous mène sur les voies de la pureté.
On reconnaît chez Sourav Chatterjee une pensée profondément spirituelle nourrie notamment dans les anciens textes sacrés de la littérature sanskrite. Puisant aussi dans l’art, le cinéma, les lettres modernes des cultures orientales et occidentales, admirateur de Bach et Giotto, comme des peintures de l’Inde classique, il y a trouvé des raisons d’être et les clés d’une représentation élevée du monde et des hommes.
C’est cet éveil, ce voyage vers la lumière, qu’il dépeint à travers les peintures choisies pour sa première exposition en France, Twilight zone. Il nous présente des visions de cette lumineuse traversée vers le savoir - étymologiquement le goût et la saveur - nourriture, raffinement de l’âme et expérience du beau. Il nous propose des oeuvres pour la plupart de grande taille où il explore une solution plastique étonnante jouant avec l’eau et des pigments pour dévoiler la transformation de l’image, voire sa trans-figuration. Avec les outremers opaques et intenses : pas un ciel, non, juste la profondeur, indifférente à toute représentation. Avec des touches vibrantes d’or pour révéler comme sur l’icône la clarté dans l’ombre, concrétiser une perception, souligner un élément sacré dans le monde des créatures. Il puise dans une inspiration intuitive et nous offre un cheminement dans son univers iconographique : la théâtralité des compositions, le sentiment de mystère, d’infini, le passage et la migration, l’avènement d’un monde. La lumière crépusculaire dessinant des silhouettes nimbées d’or dote les tableaux d’une force dramatique extraordinaire : agitation des éléments, tension des visages, poids de la barque, impression de temps arrêté. La sérénité des paupières closes des figures auréolées qui murmurent, au bord du rêve ou de la méditation, une louange apaisée, trace un pur sillon de grâce, opérant comme l’écrit Lévinas « le miracle qui me sort de moi-même ».
Et comment ne pas embrasser la nouvelle condition humaine à travers ces migrants qui risquent l’inconnu, le noir et la peur pour trouver un nouvel espace de solidarité, ouvrir nos sensibilités et nos utopies. Sont-ils le signe précurseur d’une autre manière d’être au monde? d’un devenir? Libéré de toute idéologie, le peintre avec une résistance obstinée nous confronte à une présence qui capte le regard , le tourne vers l’intérieur, stimule notre esprit, déverouille nos cages dorées. Si la fonction de l’art est, comme le dit Tarkowski, de «creuser et d’irriguer l’âme» , Sourav aura su créer ici une émotion esthétique que l’on ressent plus que l’on commente. Le spectateur peut et va chercher à comprendre. Qu’il se nourrisse surtout de la puissance de la peinture et de l’oeuvre.
BY CHANTAL PIBAROT
« Life intersections and milestones bring with them new experiences in the search for the unalienable meaning of things » Roland Barthes
Sourav Chatterjee with creates amazement. While art has always meant for him, naturally, a means of being and never only a painting surface, his recent water colours testify to a new approach in the narrative of his art. Trying to put his work into a context of recurrent themes or motives is not essential but may be quite significant for the viewers.The landscape has definitely become an environmental painting . With a blooming of colours that enlarge the emotional range of his images, from optimistic bursts of golds and blues to the gloomier hues, he mixes observation of the real with fantastic mind-drifting.
« The centre of art is my mind » repeated Gauguin.
His creating an illusionary space between abstraction and realism - sometimes sacrifying reality to a bold simplification of depth and perspective – also recalls oriental traditional artistic cultures where art is imbued with an attempt to « see through », to « go through » a mental experience. Call it …inspiration ? Like a lieder by Schubert the motive often delivers a cry of poetry especially when the bright radiant colors illuminate his visionary expertise (PRAYERS). The transluscent blues of SONATA , the rich yellows of BLUE CHAIR and BOAT provide a glowing visual feast with a strong poetical and almost spiritual appeal.
Clearly the recurrent theme of man pitted against Nature catches and captures the eye. As PADAMSE claimed it « the outside world CAN be interfering ». And it does interfere. Where is man ? Where is he going ? Prisoner of his own metamorphosis, lost in the middle term between all and nothingness as Pascal would say it, the smallness and fragility of his existence is plainly traduced by the troll-like appearance of Sourav’s poignant human presence on the canvas , dwarfed by eternal nature , often flirting with dissolution or death. Ruptures of scales may reveal incertainly and fear in front of a decaying world. Reason is deceived. The palette of greys and browns match the rugged darkness of a changing time and order.
« O rose thou art sick » wrote Blake.
(And the invisible worm
that flies in the night
in the howling Storm
Has found thy bed
Of Crimson joy
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy ») (The followinglines of the poem can be written or not)
With his painting Dried trees, Chatterjee seems to convey the same sense of mourning and unaware evil. Roots are X-rayed, ghostly cracks. Foundations open up like an abyss. Armed with brush , water and tubes he can turn an artist- activist relaying the ancient Art of protest…The image is not a thing, it is an act…
Lost Paradise ? Man comes close to vertiginous voids and dangerous brinks.
However, those seemingly « lucid » concerns for the spectator are always ingrained in or released by a somewhat supernatural HOPEFULNESS. With pitches of fantasy and quick shifts of mood and light , the painter manages to take us in his imaginary voyage where theories are grey ..but not the tree of life ! When branches Harbour men’s playful bodies, an enigmatic glimpse into their soul or mind- materialized by the white flash of the head, evokes transfiguration. The luminous intensity of man’s inner quest could erase the blackness of life , celebrate the palpitation of the world, pierce its opacity and defeat our condemned inconstancy.
The artist Sourav Chatterjee trained as a mix media painter, demonstrates here his craft with watercolour paintings. Water , by turns soothing or threatening seems to flow on the paper , fluid, sensuous, giving lightness and movement to the motive. Well-defined objects bathed in the core of a mineral , vegetal or animal world express their immaterial virtue lke « a vast womb » to give man rest and peace.
Through his expressive style and the sheer impact of his larger canvasses, Sourav C. joins us with an artistic and inevitably emotional , empathic impulse. Call it a message ....?
« No man is an Island
entire of itself
and every man is a part of the main »
The main …. The deep, the whole which a painting , like a redeeming space , can re-create mysteriously.
Indeed , borrowing Redon’s words to finish , « the artist comes to life for an accomplishment which is mysterious. The artist is an accident »
Appropriate, is not it ?
Written in January 2015
BY ANUSUA MUKHERJEE
Life as an ever-changing canvas
Sourav Chatterjee has been painting all his life. For him, life itself is an ever-changing canvas painted over with myriad events and emotions from which the individual artist makes his selections.
So every incident, ranging from the trivial, such as a railway journey remembered for a few snatches of conversation between strangers, to the momentous, such as the death of his young wife, becomes material for Chatterjee’s art.
The exhibition of his paintings, Pulsation, which opened at Studio 21 on Friday, bears testimony to the mysterious process of the artist’s imagination that transforms reality into something rich and strange.
Chatterjee, 39, insists that he is not an abstract artist. Rather, he concretises the abstract on canvas. The painting, Touch, shows the fingertips of a pair of skeletal hands joined together, while the human figure to which the arms belong, merges with, almost disappears, in the background of grey and brown. This composition, says Chatterjee, gives form to human thought, symbolised in the fingers touching one another.
Similarly the gash of blue-gold in Animal Within conceals in its depths a supine human figure pinned to the ground by a menacing creature breathing down his neck. The painting seems to be about those unguarded moments when the habitual defences of the mind are let down to reveal the violence lurking within.
Chatterjee “plays” with his colours, splashing, sprinkling or slapping them on his canvases, until they begin to take shape. He does not plan but paints as his passions direct. The finished painting thus carries traces of the workings of the artist’s unconscious, verbalising the unspoken, expressing the inexplicable.
Chatterjee paints his larger canvases in a frenzy of inspiration, submitting his will to the dictates of his paintbrush. The smaller line drawings, on the other hand, are done painstakingly, with close attention to detail. They are like miniatures, painted unhurriedly, and unfolding their meanings gradually in the viewers’ mind.
It would not be difficult to find parallels of Chatterjee’s style in Sigmar Polke’s art. Like Polke, Chatterjee too resists categorisation, changing his methods from one canvas to the other. He acknowledges his debt to Polke while pointing out that his art is passionate, unpremeditated, in contrast to Polke’s “cold” compositions.
Chatterjee maintains that even the colours he uses in his paintings have no significance beyond their immediate context. Paintings such as Blue Breath, Water Bucket, Dance orBathing might appear to form a series, having in common the colour blue, which predominates in each. But Chatterjee is quick to dismiss such an assumption, saying that blue takes on different meanings in the paintings. If in Bathing, the shades of indigo and light blue divided by two raised human arms hint at a yearning for the impossible, in Blue Breath, the wish for a place called home seems to have been frozen in a cone of icy blue.
A LASTING ROMANCE WITH PAINT
The first thing that you note about the art of Sourav Chatterjee is his romance with paint. He is taken up with its quality, for example, and its colours; particularly with the tones induced by mixing acrylic with earth colours that make them bright but matte; with the textures that he can work up and their warm tactility. He is, in other words, engaged in exploring, with eager openness, the possibilities that paint offers.
The canvases he presented at Studio 21 (Pulsation,February 19-March 5) weren’t too many. But in them, you could read the action of the artist and the process of his art as it took shape. There is the brusque brio of his brush, for instance. And the drama of the paint that is splashed onto the canvas, to splinter and spread in fields of inflected tones and congeal in ridges. And of its motion where the paint has been allowed to drip in stubborn trails. Or where it has been artfully layered in varying densities, in the manner of scumbling.
Which, of course, means that Chatterjee’s focus is on the surface rather than on the subject. In fact, it would be interesting to see the surface as the subject in paintings likeBathing (No 10) and Touch (No 2), both semi-abstract works. This becomes particularly clear when you study his handling of space, even where he chooses figuration. Although there was one painting that flirts fleetingly with perspective, space has been kept shallow and largely vertical. Rather than conjure up illusions of receding vistas, the artist tries to draw the eye upwards to trace the movement of the brush or disperse your attention all over the canvas.
Despite his feel for the materiality of paint, however, it is not certitude that comes across in these works but a concern with movement, even chaotic movement. Movement that refers to flux, which is the very condition of life. He isn’t, therefore, its dispassionate observer but an involved, perhaps anxious, participant.
While Bathing balances exuberant blues that evoke gushing water, Touch is a terrain in turmoil. Brown-greys and brick-reds meet, melt, churn, drip and coagulate through hectic strokes. On the other hand, The Point (No 6) is figurative, with a sculpturesque head in sturdy outline that tends to get scratchy and tattered. But its solidity is lost as the dark ground seems to meet the flattish torso on the same plane to turn the figure skeletal, brittle.
Chatterjee also showed some acrylic works on paper. The artist is economic in these images, leaving much white space around. Their play of breezy lines, anchored on fluent, rather calligraphic, brushstrokes that sometime leave the print of bristles in the dry, thin paint, is buoyant and amusing.
BY Subhrajit Mukherjee
« An unconscious anticipation of things to come» was Gustav Mahler’s interpretation of the A-minor key.
Sourav Chatterjee’s paintings, sets a similar key or rather a tone, which pits man against nature, man against the fruits of his own progress and broods on the present. Man and man made objects are often made to look trivial in the lap of the infinite nature. The paintings are visually enthralling and, at the same time, emotionally disquieting. In his own way, Chatterjee mourns the human interventions in nature in the form of rampant industrialization and technological advancements- in short ‘the progress of mankind’. Each of his canvas almost goes through tonal shifts- from a wide-eyed amazement of nature’s beauty to moody ominousness, growing anxiety and palpable edginess, which finally settle into a melancholy image. There is this sense of otherworldliness, through the dwarfing of everything human in relation to nature, almost a creation of a second, invisible canvas; pointing out, mankind’s siege on mother nature, in the eye, like the off-stage trumpets in Mahler’s 1st and 2nd , which evoke a sense of distance, a distance of imagination. The ‘second canvas’ also calls us from far away, and from within, like voices of the ‘dead’; the call for mankind to stop, to reflect, to turn our gaze inwards. The main canvas creates space for its metaphorical counterpart. The result is an open-ended present.»
Writer and Critic
BY CHANTAL SCHENCK
Sourav Chatterjee grew up in a middle-class Indian family, in a small town lulled by superstition, blind beliefs sometimes dubious because more or less honest. It is then commonplace, under cover of supreme spirituality, to believe that the Gods drink milk, venerate stones that have become sacred, to affirm that sick women are naturally inhabited by evil spirits and that the resin of trees transforms them into gods ....
But this absence of philosophical or mystical reflexion has not extinguished in Sourav Chatterjee a deeply spiritual thought nourished notably in the ancient sacred texts of Sanskrit literature. An admirer of Bach, Giotto and the paintings of classical India he drew on art, cinema ,classics and modern literature from Eastern and Western cultures and found there reasons far being and the keys to a high representation of the world and of men. It is this awakening, this journey toward enlightenment that he depicts through the paintings chosen for his first exhibition in France, Twilight Zone.
He presents visions of this luminous crossing towards knowledge - etymologically taste and savour- nourishment, refinement of the soul and experience of the beautiful. He proposes works mostly of large size where he explores a surprising plastic solution playing with water and pigments to unveil the transformation of the image, even its trans-figuration. With opaque and intense ultramarines: not skies, no ! just depth, indifferent to any representation. With vibrant golden touches to reveal ,like on the icon, brightness in the dark, or to concretize a perception, emphasize a sacred element in the world of creatures. He draws from an intuitive inspiration and offers us a journey through his iconographic universe: the theatrality of compositions ,a feeling of mystery, of infinity, the passage and the migration, the advent of a world. The crepuscular light of the silhouettes, nimbed in gold, gives the paintings an extraordinary dramatic force: the agitation of the elements, the tension of the faces, the weight of the boat, the impression of time stopped.
The serenity of the closed eyelids of the haloed figures who whisper, on the verge of dreams or meditations, a peaceful praise, traces a pure furrow of grace, operating as Levinas writes "the miracle that takes me out of myself." And how not to embrace the new human condition through these migrants who risk the unknown,the darkness and fear to find a new space of solidarity, open our sensibilities and our utopias. Are they the precursors of another way of being in the world? Of a future? Freed from all ideology, the painter with an obstinate resistance confronts us with a presence that captures the eye, turns it inward, stimulates our mind, unlocks our golden cages.
If the function of art is, as Tarkowski says, "to dig and irrigate the soul", Surav will have created here an aesthetic emotion that is to be felt more than commented upon. The viewer can and will seek to understand. Let him or her be nourished above all by the power of painting and the work.