Friday, November 18, 2011

Devajyoti Ray's Art : Redeeming Innocence From Post-Modernity

The Journey
Good Bye
Twilight By The Window
The Gaze
Reclining Fantasy
 The Smoker
The Gossip
The Baul
Grooming The Self
A Quiet Evening

There are various solutions, and I find Andy Warhol’s position particularly interesting. Warhol interests me because he develops a media-oriented, mechanical strategy. It is consistent with the strategy of the system, but faster than the system itself. It doesn’t dispute the system, but it pushes it to the point of absurdity, by overdoing its transparency..

 ~ Jean Baudrillard on Andy Warhol

The first half of the twentieth century had witnessed a series of turbulent transformations in the sphere of art and culture. The two World Wars had exposed the fault-lines which were hitherto hidden in the project of Modernity. The self-procalimed authority of Enlightenment Rationality crumbled. And the arrogance of the singular Truth, with a capital-T, became stale and obsolete. In its place, a mosaic of multiple truths germinated like amoeba. The certainties and fixities of modern living gradually came to be replaced with the uncertainties and insecurities of a fractured existence. In short, during the second half of the twentieth century, post-modernity emerged from the carcass of modernity. Rejecting the grand naratives of  modernism, the post-modern art evolved by blurring the boundaries between high and low forms of art. Modernism was seeking the closure in form and was concerned with conclusions. But, post-modernism began to long for openness and unboundedness. Post-modern art became more interested in the processes and journeys rather than with the end results and destinations. This has come to be a reflexive moment in the history of art as it rolled over to demask pretensions and accelerate the process of self-consciousness.

It is interesting to note that while the fin de siècle of the 19th century saw the birth of modernism, the same twilight zone of the 20th century mutely witnessed its withering away. And heralded the emergence of what Jean-Francois Lyotard had called as The Postmodern Condition. The grand (or meta) narratives of human history like the Enlightenment or the conception of Marxism have become untenable because of the mind-boggling technological advances in the domains of communication and mass media, from television to the internet. This has resulted in a totally new form of production of signs and symbols in the post-industrial economy, hitherto unkown to the experiential unvierse of mankind. Among a wide array of thinkers starting from Jacques Lacan to Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault to Jacques Derrida, the most illuminating insights on the modes of mediation and technological communication are found in the astoundingly wonderful writings of Jean Baudrillard. In the contemporary times, complete understanding of the minutiae of human life is impossible and it would remain an elusive ideal. This is inevitable because human beings as consumers of mass media are seduced into a simulated version of reality, or, to use one of Baudrillard's neologisms, a state of hyperreality. Thus Marshall McLuhan's global village has got transformed into a simulacra due to the communication revolution where nothing is real anymore. Unwittingly though!

In such a predicament, the creative expressions of artists have become radically different from the modernistic period. A few artists in South Asia have begun to conceptualize their unique position in the international contemporary art. While operating in a post-colonial society, these artists have a genuine need to discover their indigenous idioms and metaphors in order to evolve their own unique styles. In this post-modern cultural landscape, which is distinctly fluid, it becomes imperative to interpret the multiverses that co-exist both within and outside the vortex of human mind. And as Lyotard says, while there is no certainty of ideas, there are definitely better or worse ways to interpret things. Therefore, it is vital to understand, comprehend and above all, relish the works of such contemporary artists who see and interpret these panoramic worlds which we inhabit. One such fine artist with a creative flourish and vitality who is emerging in the contemporary South Asian art scene is Devajyoti Ray. In his recent works during the last few years, he has been pioneering a new style of art which he has termed as Pseudo-Realism. By experimenting with this new genre, Devajyoti Ray approaches reality through abstraction by means of abstract colours and shades. In the process, he creates a simulacra of the real, depicting the hyperreal, which approximates the real but multilayered worlds which we simultaneously live with.

The works of Devajyoti Ray are refreshingly original and fascinatingly new in the contemporary art practices prevalent in South Asia. Devajyoti's works are meditative attempts to unravel the semiotics of the hidden symbols and meanings that are embedded upon the fractured consciousness of the post-modern Self. Unlike many of his contemporaries, his works are not pretentious. They communicate to the viewer with an innate genuineness and calls for a longer conversation with the objects of art. It is this beauty and innocence, the defining hallmarks of his paintings, that makes them stand apart in the post-modern cacophony of the art world. In the existing marketised artscape, where art has become yet another commodity and where the scribbled signatures, not the object of art, sells, Devajyoti's works are uncompromising. Post-modern art holds that all stances are unstable and insincere, and therefore irony, parody and humour are the only positions that cannot be overturned. The works of Devajyoti not only redeems innocence and beauty from post-modernity, but also contain with them an ironical stance and a self-critical gaze. That is an interesting way to look at oneself and the world around in these difficult times that we are condemned to live with and get along.


  1. My dear sathya,

    i didn't read your writeup with a purpose.
    but the paintings are really good. particularly brooming the self, boul,reclinging, smoke.

    suresh subramaniam

  2. Deva's paintings are good.but i am not much impressed by these pseudo-realistic paintings.i don't know the reason for that.

  3. Although I have no idea what is modern and what is post-modern in the world of art, but the paintings are actually refreshing. It is good to see riot of colors depicting emotions of the moment. I can at least connect to these paintings and thus understand the emotions behind them, which is more important for a layman like me. I can not judge their true worth independently for which I have only the eyes of the blogger to rely upon. And I go with them. Or do I?

  4. Thanks for such an interesting posting!

    The collection of Devajyoti Ray's paintings in u'r Blog is beautiful. Especially, The Journey, Rendezvous and Reclining fantasy - it gives the real feeling of it.

    This is one way to reveal the real beauty & innocence of human beings in art. Devajyote ray had done it wonderfully. There is no doubt that he stands a remarkable person in art work.

    Your write-up about the art history of 19th & 20th century, post-modernity and the evolution of art is really good to read and understand.