Jayashree Chakravarty: Painting to the Nth Degree

Born in 1956 Jayashree Chakravarty is a talented painter who has been actively involved in the contemporary art movement in India since the 1980's. She has received a wide range of art education in institutions as varied as the Kala Bhavan, Viswa Bharati University, Santiniketan, Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda and Ecole d' Art, Aix-en-Provence, France. All of these educative stints have helped the artist to create her unique style of painting.

She has developed her own personal style, drawing on inspiration from the French impressionists and Byzantine mosaic design. According to the artist, her paintings are mostly autobiographical. "I have been able to reach out to those who have little to do with my personal life," she points out, "and make them identify with my deeply felt imagery."

Chakravarty's ink on paper sketches is an exercise in transition and transforming personal experience into mystical truth. She positions herself in the image of a spontaneous, instinctive woman who is a muse and eternal child rolled into one.

Her tightly textured brushstrokes produce a frenetic surface energy, while her restricted palette of blue, gray and white emphasizes the graphic quality of her work. She piles images and incidents on top of one another: mazes of houses perched precariously that eventually form her landscapes.

In her latest series of work, the tangled web of wiring that makes up the brain seems to be Jayashree Chakravarty's inspiration, its neurological synapses her model for construction. These paintings seem to contain both the imagery of memory and the record of sensations. They are certainly psychedelic then, as an accompanying essay notes, synthesized from within the mind rather than based upon any external referent and hark bark to the automatist techniques explored by the Surrealists. In many of the works there exists a single male head or figure, perhaps the genesis for this maelstrom in which he stands or a divining rod that anchors it.

With this motif the artist implies a cosmogony (the study of the origin of the universe) to her pictures but also a macranthropy (the universe seen as a single, huge anthropomorphic being), perhaps reconciling the two by acknowledging the concrete forms humans will always project on to all searches for beginnings.

The paintings have no beginning, middle, or end, the scale they depict is both infinitesimal and omnipotent. The artist presents a formulaic argument on the infinite divisibility of both matter and time. The artist's goal, and ultimately that of her pictures' audience, is to appreciate the mystery of infinity of the universe described as infinitely interpenetrated infinities, much as one enjoys both the similarities and the differences available among the innumerable leaves of a tree."

Earlier Jayashree Chakravarty was known for her highly romanticized figures of beautiful men and women set against bands of bright expressionist colors. After her stay in France between 1990 -1995 one notices a dramatic change in Jayashree's paintings both in her use of imagery, colors and even in the manner in which she handles her paints. The experience of alienation and loneliness of cold and bleak European winters has left its impact on this sensitive painter. Elements of abstraction are becoming more prominent as is the use of pale blues, dirty browns set against heavy use of white of thick brush strokes giving her works a sensual tactile quality.

In her works, Jayashree Chakravarty uses superimposed forms, quite like the sketches that cave painters worked on before they mapped them on the walls of caves. Her imagery, because of her fluid and transparent images, reflect the present mood of the world, which is fluid in itself. At a mere conventional and figurative level, her works reflect the unity of man with nature.

In this particular series, the artist brings into her smothering embrace: form and formlessness, material and immaterial realities, conjunctions and dissolutions, a conception of matter that acknowledges energy, the unverifiable which is also unfalsifiable. She seems to be asking what is it that arises from the conjunction of the mind with the world? She paints a vast array of relationships, some certain, some likely, and some merely possible. Jayashree Chakravarty's work is on view at Gallery Chemould till April 3.

View the artist's catalogue

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