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VS Gaitonde's Paintings - Technique And Processes

Abstraction refers to non-representational art, Figurative art refers to something with reality - both definitions are broad and have to be in fact, as otherwise, it would be seemingly impossible to categorize many artworks. What's the connection between these definitions with Vasudeo Santo Gaitonde's art? The connection becomes clear thanks to a recent exhibit at the Prince of Wales Museum (now called Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay).

The exhibit included the following artworks (appearing in order of creation year)

1953

1952

1953

1953

1958

1958

1959

1959

1959

1962

1962

1964

1966

1967

1969

1974

1974

1972

1975

1976

1979

1984

1984

1982

1984

1985

1985

1985

1987

1995

Specifically, let's focus on the drawing from 1984

There are many periods/styles associated with Gaitonde, inspired by Paul Klee, Pahari Paintings,  calligraphy inspired, musical notes inspired, synthetic cubism, abstract expressionism, "painting as a process" wherein he stuck (paint not glue) pieces of paper onto a canvas only to extract them out giving a very particular look and feel that can so distinctively be identified.

The point of this research is to point out the figurative inspiration behind these abstract paintings - where some element of the inspiration from reality can be discerned. The inspiration from reality takes various forms - where it be the landscape (say dawn or dusk in the Mumbai seafront) to a figure like the one in the drawing above being cut up into pieces (ambiguation) and via a process painted onto a canvas like the one below.

Abstraction can vary - one that has some semblance of form - from Picasso's cubism, to Piet Mondrian's lines, to Barnett Newman's stripes, to SH Raza's Bindu on the other extreme. Gaintonde seems to fall somewhere in between.

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