Jogen Chowdhury celebrates and maintains a uniquely Indian approach to art for the last 40 years of his career. This singular sensibility along with his mastery of lines distinguishes his work and cements him as one of India’s important artists in the 21st century. After growing up in a refugee settlement in former Calcutta during the partition of India, he made art his medium of evaluating his milieu; and portrayed the starkness of reality he witnessed. Indian family life and traditional folklore also inspired him, equally at ease in depicting idyllic rural life along with complex issues of sexuality, poverty, and politics.
He depicted his figures in a simple yet dramatized presence by stripping them down to the most basic of form. He uses strong fluid lines and carefully exaggerates proportion to distort and impart an air of caricature. He also employs an intricate network of crosshatches to add weight to the image and give texture to the overall surface while using pastel colors to provide matter into the form.
In the present lot, he portrays a woman lying seductively on a bed, her hair loose, and eyes wide and hypnotic towards an unknown viewer. Her body is draped in a light cloth that silhouetted her curves, while one of her shoulders is bare. Posed as if playing with her long slender fingers, the provocative gesture enhances the enigmatic situation and showcases the artist’s masterful understanding of both human form and relationships. He depicted her with extremely agile body parts slightly cropped against a background that seems to vanish. Jogen essentially crops the central image to conceal some parts in some of his more recent works; he explained, “The moment I show the entire figure, the interest in the details would be lost[…].”
Auction Catalogue – South Asian Art – ‘Modern and Contemporary’ – March 12 -16, 2020