Nov 23, 2023   |   KALAMKAR GALLERY Bikaner House, Pandara Road, New Delhi- 110003

Measureless Depths; Unending Visions

Deep Within, oil colour paintings of Roy Thomas , invite us to the realm of a deep synthesis of objects and environment, thought and a confluence of mixed emotions, affect and distancing. One would wonder why the artist has chosen a path to derange or destabilize the established and renowned works of art, monuments and other cultural signs to create an array of paintings. Such thoughts apart, one gets struck by the sensitive images that crisscross the canvas among many powerful works of art taken from different historical points of time. Michelangelo’s La Pieta, Moses, Rodin’s The Thinker and many other famous sculptures from the Renaissance to the modern times are seen as a palatial gaze, submerged deep under the water. Surrounding them is a flora and fauna, of water inhabitants - familiar and unfamiliar, thus creating the setting for a new vision on canvases.
This collection of works brings together the artist’s consistent thoughts over a few years, showcasing the range, veracity and creative evolution. The thoughts of environmental disaster is powerfully set as the backdrop of each painting. The aesthetics of preservation works in tandem with the confluence of thoughts that stem from the established forms and styles. Furthermore, they render them into something unexpected and strange. The variety of themes attached to each painting is a reworking of the aesthetics of painting. Recognizable patterns in each work, seen as submerged, make us aware of certain impending danger. The valences of “seeing” also change here to capture the minutiae of everyday life. A painting such as “Unliberated Ocean Bed” is a powerful representation of liberty and justice denied in an age of Anthropocene. When nature turns out to be a human creation, the ebb and flow of old hymns disappear fast.” The Halo and the Priest” twists our perceptions of theology usually seen in relation to morality. A Politico- theological awareness based on power is suggested. The decapitated priest is an example of the failure of theology in all sense. “The Unheard Commandments”, similarly, take our gaze away from the fury of Moses and creates the situation of an “absence” – both of the prophet and Mount Sinai. The sense of movement, much valorized in the art of the Renaissance sculpture, is overturned here as the prophet cannot be seen or his voice heard. Who doesn’t want to see Moses in fury when Palestine is burning? The confluence of the imaginable and the unrelated, thus, create a pantheon of new perception. By doing so, the artist aims for a new aesthetics of vision.
Snatches of justice, moral values and anger echo through some of the paintings. “Unliberated Waterbed” is the painting where we see the stupa of Ashoka in a maze of differential colours and the sight troubles our sights beyond comprehension. With sensitive differences of ideas the historical characters such as Ashoka and Ambedkar bear (though Ambedkar embraced Buddhism later) and the irretrievable question of their justice constantly questioned and challenged by the majoritarian discourse in our time, these art works illustrate the pathos and dangers of disappearing values. The paintings overturn the staticity of vision and gaze. In other words, such a thematic overturning of the great monuments in our time, where individuals and their values are bypassed, essentially opens up the possibility of the evolution of a mixed genre. For example, in works like “Deep Gaze” and “Serene Gaze”, while retaining the quality and power of the early crafted figures, another level of visual domain arises. This domain contains the difficulty of “non- seeing” embedded in the unicentered viewing of a sculpture. By mixing the “unseen” in the figures with an array of different colours that constitute the depth of water, the artist asserts the supremacy of another vision - that would register the pangs of environmental and political crisis of our time. All paintings in this exhibition provide the viewers a great deal to think about a range of issues related to the ways in which we have familiarized viewing the sculptures, monuments and figures ranging from the Renaissance to the majestic dynasties of India. One gets a great deal to think about the visions hidden within visions, the alternate genres in the rise and a new aesthetics, which marks a critical evolution in the history of painting.
The logic of perception in these works exposes the horrors of our times and unburden our fixities of unicentered vision of art works. They respond with engaged awareness that grapples with the persistence of violence in our times. The paintings, hence, are an address to both the mundane and the violence of vision, urging that both need to be recreated.