3 July 2009

Illuminating Detail: Indrapramit Roy's paintings

Indrapramit Roy, Metropolis I, 30” x 40”, Watercolours on Golden Acrylic base on paper
(Image courtesy India Uncut)

Indrapramit Roy’s exhibition of new works at Anant Art Gallery, New Delhi, titled, …And the Silence Drops Down, from the 13th of March to the 3rd of April, provided for pleasant but not very interesting viewing. Roy’s brushwork was accomplished and some of his watercolours had an appealingly underplayed quality. However, works like The Old Cupboard fell back on an unreconstructed nostalgia: a bedraggled teddy bear suspended from a mouldy shelf was expected to elicit a sentimental response. Works like The Mall and Décor aimed to be surreal but remained merely descriptive. The attempt at playfulness in Skyline, where bathroom toiletries were lined up to suggest the forms of city skyscrapers, fell flat.

But Roy’s depictions of water, skies and cities were skilful and often arresting. Anchorage and Pleasure Boat both showed boats at sea, the latter managing to convey a Diwali-like sense of festivity while creating an undercurrent of eeriness with the boat’s fishlike mouth and body outlined with fairy lights against a dark sea. More unusual were The Pool – I and The Pool – II, where a shimmering swimming pool was rendered through a skilled depiction of light.

It is usual for watercolourists to be fascinated by light, and Roy is no exception. His intriguingly empty, geometric cityscapes are often rendered at dawn or dusk, when the light has a special translucent quality. This was evident in Desert Morning, Dawn Breaking and Green Dawn. In fact, one could see Roy’s abiding interest in artificial light – rows of halogen lamps on a factory ceiling and hotel lights reflected in a swimming pool, for example. The Factory startlingly juxtaposed artificial light with a twilight sky, somehow making the natural light appear harsher.


This review was published in Art India: The Art News magazine of India (Vol XVI, Issue 1, Quarter 1, 2009).

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