Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke is delighted to present the first solo exhibition of Kaushik Saha.
Kaushik’s generation (he was born in 1989) has been hit rather hard with a number of dilemmas. Growing up in Kolkata in the tumultuous 90s and the first decade of the new millennium offered him a ringside view of how hollowed out slogans of social piety that promised an egalitarian society turned into the bizarre and the ridiculous in his home state of West Bengal. He grew up in a society that was enmeshed in a mind numbing cacophony produced by the ease of telecommunication, internet proliferation, electronic media onslaught, a mad rush for breaking news that is more fire than light and designed to keep us in a perpetual state of siege.
As an art student in an academy that clung to a pedagogy harking back to the academic certainties of the colonial era, raised more questions in his early years than he could possibly find answers for. Kaushik was certain that he needed to widen his horizons and only then could he hope for a linguistic trope that would allow him to grow a distinct voice. With an instinct for self-preservation, a doggedness borne out of the necessity to escape the cul-de-sac, he moved to Baroda for his post graduate studies in 2012. He was in awe of the grand figurative narrative tradition of Baroda and the move allowed him a liberating perspective.
Kaushik’s rich surfaces of sweeping gestural paint use mark-making techniques of a wide variety. His paint is often poured, dragged, splattered, daubed, scraped, allowed to congeal. In the large works on board the painted surface is often overlaid with zillions of rusty nails hammered on and then conjoined with lengths of copper wire zigzagging through the nail heads. Some of the works have flattened bicycle tyre tubes making up much of the surface on which paint is applied. The humble tubes, a signifier of everyday labour like the nails, and the copper wire, help him build a surface that allows him to camouflage a subversive narrative tableaux that lurks within.
Kaushik chooses to be an observer with a sharp eye that draws our attention by sly referencing. His control over the syntax has not led him to smooth out the quirks. An ambitious attempt at bridging the two distinct tendencies, where the quotidian nestles in the lap of the grand narrative of painterliness marks him out. The stylist in him gives life to a style that underscores disequilibrium. His more recent works have become less wrenched by signs of aggression but preserve his penchant for subversive imagery. Kaushik is unmistakably reposing his faith in the possibility that painting despite all the skepticism, can naturally carry the complex bewildering narrative of our time on its shoulder with elan.
- Excerpted from an essay for the exhibition by Indrapramit Roy