In An Enchanting World of Fluid Imagination
Dhanur Goyal is a Tagorean in his art. Remember, I do not say that this young artist re-creates the aesthetic impact that Tagore’s paintings, mainly the images that the great bard had created out of the technique of erasure, in his contemporary works. On the contrary I would say that Dhanur Goyal translates his aesthetic vision into paintings and drawings done mainly using pen and ink on paper in a Tagorean mode, which is fluid, spontaneous and has a full blown capacity to transform the concrete into rhythmic abstraction. Worldly experiences are transformed and transmitted through swirling lines, fluid contours and a very intimate and suggestive symbolism. Images seem to submerge in the whirlpool of enchanted lines or at times they look like emerging from an intense ocean thanks to the lyrical churning of the artist’s hand. Dhanur’s pictorial world is hypnotic in a way; the more you look into it, the more you are transported to a different world where you see the vision not only intended by the artist but also subconsciously revealed by your own collective memory.
It all started when Dhanur found out his ability to carve images out of two dimensional hardboards. For a long time he pursued his passion for carving, flowing with the rhythm of chiselling and filing the surface layer of the board and revealing the hidden images in it. Intentional and unintentional images evolved in due course of time and adding colour to the lines was a very pleasurable affair for the artist. It was a sort of perfecting the craft for him while he seriously enquired the possibilities of expanding the scope of his art. For a general art practitioner or even to an art lover, this act of carving could have been a primary step towards making wood cut prints but for Dhanur it was not a preparation for making woodcut prints. He did not follow the rules of printmaking. On the contrary he responded to an inner call that goaded him to use the surface itself as a medium than sub-grading it as a procedural act before making the final print. However, a deeper look into current series would tell us how those carving processes have helped him in coming up with an exquisite set of works under the common title, ‘Losing Sight of Perspective’.
The title speaks a lot here; on the one hand the title holds the essence of artistic execution which almost denies any chance of the classical perspective coming in and on the other hand it also emphasises the core of the thematic that Dhanur generally plays up in these works. To understand the thematic orientation regarding the losing sight of perspective, we should approach his works from a different angle; as an existential young man, Dhanur regards the contemporary world as a transitory space and phase where the human beings often tend to lose the ‘right’ perspective of/on things. In that sense, he deduces, everything that we see around is chimerical and illusory, which could change the shape and colour at will and at the projection of frenzied fancies over them. It could be critical as well as celebratory, depending on the mood of the artist and the onlooker.
This perspective shift is a cumulative experiential transference of the artist who has felt the changes in his surroundings. Art historically speaking, throughout the period of modernism in art, especially in the western world, the insistence of/on originality was based on the retrieval of primordial forms and expressions from their forgotten locations and also on the experimental application of the retrieved within the field of visual aesthetics. Primitive art helped the modern artist to find the lost visual cultures as well as his own evolutionary psychology. Entrenched in the innards of the culturally ‘unconditioned’ areas of his mind, were the images that could pour out profusely when all the guards of academicism were taken off. In Dhanur’s works too we see this profusion of images coming from a mind that is not restricted by any school of thoughts. It is in this context that I would recall Rabindranath Tagore’s works while I discuss Dhanur’s works.
Dhanur creates images that could be understood as pure forms which in a strict sense do not let any narrative to manifest. They are forms shaped out of the primordial rhythms of an artistic mind co-ordinated with a skilful hand. But at the same time these images within their fluidity itself solidify during the optical engagements of the viewer and let narrative to take place at their will. According to me, these narratives could be imaginative as well as representational. When it is an imaginative narrative (not only for the artist but also for the viewers), the momentary solidification of images helps the viewer to trace their contours and read them as per their relational possibilities. Hence, two interlocking forms could become a couple in love, two clouds like formations could be a beautiful dance and so on. In the representational narratives, in a very subtle way the artist places images against a mesmerizing background and I have discerned them as the representations of birds, faces and landscapes.
Taking the critical freedom to read the images as text and with this perennial itch to find out subtexts out of it, I could clearly say that the bird imagery as quick and elegant as their flitting in the firmament brings forth the idea of freedom that Dhanur always wants to highlight in his works and life. Faces, like the special interest that Tagore had taken in the hagiographic representations of the real and imaginary people, for this young artist too, are the locations where he could capture the essence of the enigma called life. In the present series too, Dhanur has taken keen interest in creating a series of faces, at times multiple faces within a single frame, with his rhythmic lines and fluid contours. Landscapes, though they do not represent particular places, become an integral part of Dhanur’s thinking and I take great pleasure in saying that these landscapes could stand the test of the time and prove this artist’s worth.
VENUE: F-213-C, Lado Sarai,
New Delhi- 110030
DATE: 8th December to 15th January 2012