Milieu solo exhibition of drawings
23 MARCH to 01 April 2022
Dr. Arjun Kumar Singh
Chitkara University, Punjab, India.
This exhibition is part of my effort to communicate to the connoisseurs of art my ideas and ideals, my visions of the Art of Drawing, revealed through my understanding of the quintessence of life. Every art is a quest of self, revealed through the phenomenon of the experienced world, and the same is true of Drawing.
The language of visual arts has been enriched variously through the ages, and more and more dimensions have been added to it as time passed, the process coming to a culmination in the modern and postmodern eras when things have happened so fast that it’s impossible to take stock of its entire range at once. In this, both the individual and the society have mutually contributed. The rapid technological development of the last few years has equipped it with newer paradigms. The need for any language remains so long as there is a possibility of exchange in it. And many genres of visual arts have been changing and developing themselves over time. Drawing is also a form of visual art through which the artist seeks to express his meaning. The artists engrave his desires and cravings through various tools to present them to the audience.
The postmodern life is a complex thing and the task of expressing it is challenging. The rapid strides made by humanity in the fields of information and communication have made things even more complicated and one has ever to be on guard to grasp its multifoliate subtleties. The extremes of consumerism have made the scenario even more disturbed, for the tentacles of mass culture and mass media have imprisoned the public imagination. In such a time, the artistic expression has to capture these contrasting images and prescribe a panacea for the malaise inflicting the time. That's why my drawing sometimes has complex structures and at times extreme desolation is also evident. The complex structures represent the difficult phases of my life and the emptiness represents a state of detachment from these adversities.
These drawings also contain pleasant feelings relating to my stay in Banaras. They are represented through many images such as stairs, temples, architecture, angular light and shade. That particular phase of my life was so wonderful; there was such ease, and such sense of fulfilment, that an aspiration to do something in life seemed rich with possibilities. Slowly everything has taken a different perspective, but the fragrance of those bygone days lingers in the mind and heart, which automatically finds shades of expression in my drawings and paintings.
Today I often find myself trapped between modern and huge structures and a sense of claustrophobia seeps in. I keep on manipulating the figures (visual and textual data). I keep trying to harmonize with the power. I keep oscillating between those desires and aspirations, which I am struggling to acquire today. There are many images of such paradoxical situations in my drawings. And these images are the antidote to the essential despair that has grown within me. The time of the ‘Covid 19’ pandemic has emphasized this state more and more.
Passing through my existential positions, I have slowly and steadily come to realize that the taste of life is not sweet... but salty. Like the salty taste of blood running in our arteries, or the salty taste of pain flowing through our eyes as also the taste of toil coming out of our body in form of sweat. That is why the colour combination of this exhibition is prominently black and white and the essence is ‘Namkeen’.
Sorrow is the essence of life and its taste is salty...
- Dr. Arjun Kumar Singh
Anand Shankar Bahadur
Noted Critic and Writer
Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India
The subtleties and intricacies of art are astounding. They lead towards strange pathways of realization. Arjun Singh's drawings should be appreciated in this perspective.
Arjun Singh is well aware of the immense challenge of expressing the subtle nuances of the complex reality of modern life through such simple tools as a straight line, a point, or a curve, together with a few blank and shaded spaces; while drawing. But he has been able to make those lines, points, curves and light-shades speak meaningfully and tell an existential tale. The tale he has to tell is more of a parable than some straightforward chronology. Time, space and event, all get skewed and twisted on an uneven plane here.
Arjun's art suits his purpose. Like any artist practicing a subtle art, Arjun doesn't make his meaning available in one quick swoop, one has to make effort to reach its inner quintessence, but it's always there, beckoning you in the right direction, as any art should do. Especially in drawing, where the form should be well in sync with the formless and the unfathomable... In a nutshell, Arjun knows what he is doing, he's a conscious artist who chooses his subjects carefully and then the medium and the tools are suitably adapted to the end.
Arjun Singh's progress as an artist has been, I am satisfied to note, a pleasure and a revelation. Looking more closely and particularly at his drawings, one finds he has judiciously harnessed all the traditional tools of drawing, to lead towards his chosen goal. He has used both the straight line and the curve meticulously, and with a sure insight. The lines are strong, precise and mature, they lead towards complex and intricate possibilities, subtly suggested by the curves and undulations and their shades and blanks. The curve and the blank, to me, stand for the universe and its eternity, whereas a line is a segment of a curve and hence, has a limit. Arjun Singh's works comprise of a preponderance of straight lines which generally terminate into triangles and cones. There are very few square figures and round structures are rare too. This for me points towards a critical bent of mind, through which a conscious and socially committed artist becomes critical of his time and space. Arjun is a down to earth artist always on the lookout for ways and means to give expression to the zeitgeist or spirit of his time. The triangles of his drawings are not any aberration; rather they conform to a rule. They also exemplify a critical outlook towards reality, giving more importance to how things should be, rather than how they really are or were. While the present is always what is being pursued, the past is never out of perspective, as a taint of nostalgia pervades all his presentations. While viewing Arjun I was struck with this critical-mystical dialectic. In the final impression, however, the sharp edges, where straight lines cut each other resulting in numerous figures, remain etched in memory. Which makes Arjun, at least for me, a drawer of the triangle or cone rather than a cube or a sphere.
It is nice to remember, in this context, that the Greeks, the inventors of the Pyramids, were the most fertile of the ancient civilizations.
The life that thus gets illuminated in Arjun's drawings is the common life of humdrum reality. The sheer monotony, boredom and essential loneliness of humanity get underlined in the shady figures of bending semi-human forms, subtle bird-animal imagery, as well as cave and temple-like structures with jacks, banners and buntings over them. Arjun takes delight in painting the ordinary scenario with ease and felicity, finding luxury in its commonplace essence. The easeful grandeur of the elite or feudal class is regularly missing, which is yet another unspoken dimension of the artist with panache for the ordinary and sympathy for the have-not.
Prof. (Dr.) Ranjan Kumar Mallik
Dean, Dept. of Fine Arts
Chitkara Design School
Chitkara University, Punjab, India
Dr. Arjun Kumar Singh is an experienced painter and academician who create art with a conscious and logical vision. He has studied BFA, MFA from Faculty of Visual Arts, Banaras Hindu University, and Ph.D. from Lovely Professional University, Punjab, India.
He has been experimenting with the medium of drawing to express his visual understanding, especially in Charcoal and Dry Pastel for the past several years. He has developed a unique style in said mediums. The influence of Cubism is quite visible in his artworks; the figures emerge or progress in the drawing in a certain manner. Dr. Singh takes the help of his immediate surroundings to select the images and display them on the panel of the picture. So, his drawings although sometimes abstract can keep viewers connected and involve them in the expansion of their experiences. The influence of Dr. Arjun's past is clearly reflected in his artworks where he draws vivid images of the ‘Ghats’ of Banaras where he spent his significant time. He has found a way of drawing in which he incorporates different aspects of visualization that expresses his unique visual exploration. The wideness of Arjun’s mature understanding is also reflected in his teaching.
Now, He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fine Arts, Chitkara Design School, Chitkara University Punjab. On the behalf of Chitkara family, I congratulate him and extend my best wishes for this exhibition and efforts...
School of Creativity, Rishihood University, Sonipat
Art Historian, Critic, Curator & Art Educator
Founder Member, Cutting Edge Art Practices (CAP)
“Form is emptiness; emptiness is form" states the Heart Sutra, one of the best-known ancient Buddhist texts. The essence of all things is emptiness.”
― Eckhart Tolle
The Drawings of Arjun Singh indicates a realm of unknown/sub known elements of our surroundings; leading us on a journey of multiple possibilities and interpretations.
While seeing these drawings one can have manifold encounters with some elements or a referential representation of known objects/symbols from the world we live in / interact with. These works can be seen as a constant journey of an artist who is bringing elements from his memories and combining them with a stylized visual language; where the harmonious lines become synonyms to alphabets and forms behave like some forgotten songs from the childhood memorials that still haunt us.
As an Artist, Arjun Singh has spent a long time in Varanasi and the landscape of the Holy City performs a vital role in his compositions, the geometric representations of the Ghats, Temples, Stares, Boats, etc find a surreal meaning and representation in his artworks. Varanasi as a city has multiple stories and associations with Myths / History / Culture / Politics and Rituals that make it a Vibrant Living place, not just another city. These Drawings are also like the city Varanasi in its very own conception, construction, and pictorial vocabulary, Intricate but Exceptionally Simple at the same time. Where one can find the remnants of numerous references and symbols and their associations with other things; the symbols like distorted faces, Moon, Star/s, Bird, etc. drawn in a very simplified fashion can be seen as the elements coming from the folklores preserved deep down in the memory lanes of the artist.
Also, humans especially Women's forms and portraits have been emblematically used by the artist many times along with the simplified landscape and other elements. A very powerful representation of the power of humanity and their belief in the better future have been shown by the uses of these metaphorical images of women, the custodian of all the beautiful things in life and Nature.
Drawing as a medium itself can be understood as a very delicate medium of Visual expression where minimal uses of colors and lines create space for multiple interactions, and specifically in this series of drawings by Arjun Singh that possibility of multiple interaction and interpretation is wide open...