Navarasa, or nine basic emotions are fundamental to all Indian aesthetics like music, dance, theatre and poetry. Niladri Paul takes on this concept of navarasa, breaking all the barriers of language and cultures to explore the visual poetry and sculpt the physical space, taking the viewer into an imaginative realm of story and emotion, thriving on fluid movements and nuances. He endeavours to translate the Abhinaya, the Rasa and the Bhava from a contemporary, individualistic perspective all his own.
Niladri Paul, the artist, essentially a rasik and a romantic at heart, revelling in his art as he revels in nature in all its celebration, sets out to portray the Navarasa on canvas and it would be wrong to view his paintings within the boundaries of classified, structured performances. For, the Rasas have their reach far beyond the horizons of external human structuring, which are in fact, a mere modicum in the vast miracle of nature. By implications, the Rasas encompass the entire gamut of the human disposition. It is therefore perhaps that after viewing a cross section of performances both from the east and west, traditional, modern, what struck root in his mind was that barring regional and cultural colourations, the Rasas or emotions delineated in each of them remain universal.
In all cultures across the world, the performing arts have a strong and necessary association and dependence on the body of the performer, for it is that which puts into act that the audience must experience. So, as in Natya, so in Chitra, it is the representation of man and woman in their heightened state of emotions, those Bhavas, and Abhinaya present a supreme picture- a Param Chitra. Inspired largely by the performing arts, Niladri’s Navarasa paintings shows a marked shift from his earlier Nada Brahma series, and its transparent, ephemeral colour palette, enlivened by the frolic of fine, electrified lines. Performance must necessarily carry the body weight and musculature of the artist, in addition to the gravity of what it seeks to convey. The requirement for translating this visual weight on to the canvas, not only of performance but also of the elements that scaffold it, has emboldened Niladri’s palette. So although the artist’s recognisable delicacy of the form and brushwork still continue, the series is characterised by a lot of power packed imagery. Rhythm and solidity replace lyricism achieved mostly through pronounced play of light and shade in powerful brushstrokes.
This comes as a turning point for Niladri’s palette, with the earlier primary colours giving way to more secondary tones, explaining a subject that to him is more poetic and rooted. The layered spreading of darkened hues make the eye travel deep into dimensions thus wrought, as if into some mysterious depths of Creation, from which the images in turn emerge, in a malleable relating of matter and form.
In a fine synthesis of Rasa and Bhava Niladri captures the essence of it, when he states, “the feel of rhythm and movement are elixirs to me. I experience it all when I begin to paint- the currents that flow between sound and beat, even as the body subjects itself to its magic- I feel it from within. The static does not inspire me at all!”. Thus one more time, ever evolving and hugely diverse is Niladri’s new narrative on canvas, like the protagonists of his Navarasa creations, bending and stretching to the sounds of music, feet flitting as if ignited by the elements, to attempt and arrest the rapturous intensity of the cosmic movements through the perfection of rhythm and line.
VENUE: Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre,
Lodhi Road, New Delhi
DATE: 1st – 7th October 2008