Abir Karmakar became known for his voyeuristic self-portraits that saw him place his body in intimate settings. His oil paintings evoked an inward looking world replete with imagined situations and layers of psychosomatic content. His approach in more recent paintings is as sophisticated a performance as his flamboyant narcissism was in the preceding phases of his career. The body's urges and discontents, its shapes and impressions, leak beyond their physical confines and imprint themselves on objects and across spaces. The domestic interior records the extended presence of the bodied self, which claims it as habitation and, indeed, as habitat.
Karmakar’s interiors are sumptuous and mysterious; and even when they are sometimes tawdry, he elevates them with the burnished light glowing through a yellow curtain. Sources of deep, recessive light—warm and mellow, luminous behind shades—are ubiquitous in these paintings, marking Karmakar’s homage to the Old Masters, to Rembrandt and Vermeer. But the masters are not trapped in reverent emulation; instead, they are brought back into the currency of living exchange through citation and adaptation.
Karmakar is clearly drawn to the primacy of idea; the vehicle of realism and specifics of technique, though honed to a craft-like skill, are secondary. His paintings of single, life-sized doors are based on the conceptualization of the door as an autonomous entity, extracted from the wider narrative and compositional syntax of the interior. He covers the surface of the door with meticulously painted stains, scratches, and traces of dirt, numerous marks that not only speak of the door’s function, but also the cultural and social origin of its user. The realistic rendition of the door lures the beholder into surrendering to the visual illusion of an infinite space behind
‘Displacement’, curated by Birgid Uccia, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
'Uncanny Space', catalogue essay by Donald Kuspit, Aicon Gallery, New York
'Room, Interrupted in Passage', catalogue essay by Ranjit Hoskote, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
'Drawn From Practice', Experimenter, Kolkata
Kochi-Muziris Biennale Fund-Raiser Auction, Saffronart, Mumbai
‘DWELLING’, 10th Anniversary Show (Part II), curated by Ranjit Hoskote, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
'Forming in the pupil of an eye', curated by Sudarshan Shetty, Kochi – Muziris Biennale, Kochi
Essl Museum of Contemporary Art, Klosterneuburg
Asia Society's Future Artist Award