Rajesh Salgaonkar’s new body of work is a series that comes from his stay at his London studio. Living in London he missed Goa as much every day, he would do a small watercolor, ink rendering which later grew to bigger sheets the size he needed to portray his entire surroundings at the same intimate level of detail. In one way or another, he was always drawing his world, from the optical scatter of woman, birds and fishes. He came to embrace a self-sufficient tautology which all artists understand in their own way, but few with such clarity of purpose.
|Recent work by Rajesh Salgaonkar|
The erasure, for the most part, of the elements as the space they left behind was liquidly unfolded and deciphered, induced a psychologically potent side effect. Their absence allows the viewer to enter archetypal precincts, through ambiguous outlines in dreamy blank spaces where scenarios of love, memory are enacted forever, just as he did with drawings of his immediate surroundings, one piece of paper folding under, a new one gluing on until the drawing came to rest. A consummate painter, Salgaonkar’s painterly surfaces appear to breath color. They inhale and exhale color-spaces, made by a remarkable range of thick or thin, fat or lean, brushed or wiped marks on works of paper that needed the resistance of a solid wall behind it. Surprisingly, Salgaonkar’s whole enterprise is dependent on its beginning: specifically, the graphic translation of his first possession of a moment, a moment both poignant to him as being a potential painting, and a personal incident or experience.
It is in these drawings that the artist commits to paper his obsession with content and color through a myriad of diverse marks. His hand was observed to move rapidly over the surface of drawing paper, the small stub of a soft pencil hidden by his large hands. It was as though his pencil’s point was his eye taking in the significant data. These drawings allow access to spaces where it would have been almost impossible to take and it is when we think about our own space as viewer in his paintings that we are rewarded with a surprise of location, the deep space is flattened, near forms are volumetric, and the negative spaces operate as both flat and spatial simultaneously. For Salgaonkar drawing is sensation, and taking possession of the image. The next step is the translation of these notations into color, not local color, but the color that comes from his interior logic. The sensation and its perceptual basis change mysteriously into the concept or the idea of color. The painting uses localized color as a springboard to a far more unique and surprising equivalent. Reflected color often plays a significant role. It is the color in these shadows, rather than the color in the light that depicts Salgaonkar’s highly original color variants and ensembles.
One comes to realize that reality and fiction flip everywhere in Salgaonkar’s work. As for the artist’s encyclopedic works of his immediate surroundings, they trade on the traditional fictions of life in the way that disjunctive local spaces and times are fused under a continuous skin of illusion. Yet it is life drawings very much in the tradition of that genre, for all their annotated eccentricities that increasingly come to occupy Salgaonkar’s watercolor masterpieces featuring the, maximal challenges for the artists’ ever-sharpening ability to see and describe. Using careful layers of translucent watercolor, he could now capture the waxy glistening of dolphins, parrots and peacocks and as one grasps the combination of flatness, space, and light in Salgaonkar’s watercolors, the subtleties of his sophisticated palette and tonal gradations reveal a seductive luminosity. Through this examination one’s mind empties out, leaving oneself in a contemplative state. Or perhaps better put, one becomes fully engaged in the moment peering simply into the painting’s surface while marveling at the unique and nuanced light held by each work.