Tinged with an alternative meaning
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
And all the creative souls are privileged by wielding that weapon. The recent show ‘By Darkling Grounds’ by Adip Dutta at gallery Experimenter, Kolkata emphasised the act of observing the surroundings from the vantage point of an artist and transforming the mundane reality into something intriguing. Dutta, over a period, is engaged in exploring the alternative meaning of objects related to labour and building construction. His very recent show is, therefore, an extension of his role as an artist who bestows his prosaic surrounding with novel connotations. In his second solo show at this gallery, the artist tried to look at his immediate milieu of urban space through the whimsical eyes which eventually led him to explore the inner essence of the circumambient sites. He has unearthed the construction site as an archaeological site in disguise. Things and materials associated with a building site such as iron rod, wire, brick, stone chips, wooden blocks, and safety nets are assigned with an alternative meaning.
The very first artwork the viewer would confront is titled ‘Landmark’, a found wood log with a piece of iron rod strapped at one end lied in the pit next to the entrance. The found object is an instrument to bend metal rods, a regular tool in a construction site. Its lying position echoes that of the unearthed remains found after an archaeological excavation. This artwork precisely reflects the disposition of the artist’s imagined realm. Another piece of work titled ‘Running woods’ denotes Dutta’s fantasy which camouflages rows of wooden poles of a construction site into the dense woods. The large and small drawings in black ink are painstakingly executed by covering each corner of the pictorial space with dots and dabs. The artist followed the process of reworking on the drawings during a span of four years. There appear several objects related to the constructions sites as fantastic motifs. For instance, in the painting ‘12, Abhay Sarkar Lane’, the safety nets are hanging in such a manner that resembles fishing nets on a beach. The artist has juxtaposed organic elements alongside non-living things. He delineated some forms with hatching lines which appear to be a honeycomb or a cocoon. Multiple perspectives are used to depict the elements scattered in the pictorial space. The works displayed in the show as a whole yield a scenario with panoramic view. While in some paintings Dutta looks at the exposed earth, in the painting ‘Backdrop-II’ the eye is turned towards the sky where the trees are rising high with their heads entangled.
Being a sculptor predominantly his inclination is visible in work ‘Nebula’. In this work, the artist delineated a form of nebula with a mesh of steel net which in a closer look reveals an armature like structure inside its womb. This work, as if symbolically indicates, the present world as a construction with concrete anatomy. Thus the artist has maneuvered his insight to bestow new connotations to the surrounding space and objects concerning it, and in this process, the works are submerged views of both the psychological and the physical landscape. The recent trend in the art scenario of Kolkata evolves around the urgency to search for the identity of different sorts, be it social, political, religious, sexual, or personal. Against this backdrop, Adip Dutta is probing his surrounding through the eyes of an explorer. While there exists a thriving practice of studying alternative mediums, Dutta precisely confined his recent body of works in drawing and serigraphy. The show was on view from 17th May to 8th July 2017. Adip Dutta, based in Kolkata, is a member of the Faculty of Visual Arts in Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata.