Inviting the viewer to assume the gaze and role of the voyeur, Karmakar's video installations adopt an economy of means, his palette tending towards monochrome, the austere grammar of the work parsed from the movements made by the figures. In viewing it, we become painfully aware of the depredations of time on the body, of the gradations by which the body casts off security and social propriety, like so many suits of clothing, as it descends into sleep, to reveal the primal motors of selfhood. And as we watch Karmakar's this ad protagonists and become involved in their dramaturgy of involuntary disclosure, we too find ourselves inveigled into dropping the customary defences of adulthood.
In Karmakar's handling, 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. Equally, alongside these lavish flows of desire, Karmakar's art bears testimony to decay and desuetude: he identifies the processes of ruin, in anatomy as in architecture, on toned flesh as on a window frame. Of late Karmakar has turned to installation, translating the very concerns and preoccupations that animated his paintings into a three-dimensional vocabulary. "I have always been interested in the periphery," the artist says. But it's not just the in-between-ness that Karmakar points to, but also the aperture's capacity to clarify and also obfuscate, to reveal a world beyond even as it conceals the one within. It's a blind, thus, in more ways than one, quite like the rooms in Karmakar's paintings which function as a kind of spatial metaphor for and an extension of a frame of mind.
Born 1977 in Siliguri, India
Bachelor of Visual Arts in Painting, Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta
MA in Painting, Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda
Lives in Baroda
'Room Interrupted in Passage’, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai Catalogue essay by Ranjit Hoskote
Kochi Muziris Biennale