The vertical character of the skyline infused with brilliant hues is iridescent, as if framing a mirage or weaving a dream with rays of light. Gurudas Shenoy’s paintings of urban spaces recount narratives constructed around places, their architecture and history to form visual chronicles. The irregular façades of structural forms conceal stories of life and living. An array of emotions, personal and collective sagas and memories lie embedded within the walls of settlements. They form tapestries of whispered stories. Archives of human existence entrenched in every brick and piece of glass, the inanimate captures the living breath within its folds.
The colours and the sights and sounds of nature from the verdant landscape of Udupi in Karnataka, a beautiful coastal town by the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, are ingrained in Shenoy’s subconscious. Along with the lush natural surroundings, the vibrant cultural environment from the region with its folk arts, music and dance has also influenced him deeply. The spirit of celebration imbued in the performances of Yakshagana, Bayalata, Bhoota and Nagamandala has contributed to his visual language.
In recent times, Shenoy’s imagery has undergone a perceptible shift towards urban landscapes and abstraction. The evolution of the current series of cityscapes can be traced back to his visit to Europe a few years ago. A significant point in his artistic journey, the European visual and cultural environment opened up entirely new vistas for him. It triggered rigorous experimentations on canvas, and an expansiveness in his imagination and thought, resulting in a fresh vocabulary. Paris, Amsterdam and Prague amongst other cities, contributed to a refined aesthetic in terms of colours, lines, form, light and textures, leading him to explore the city in its vitality, sheer energy and its resplendence. His fascination with buildings, old and new, their historicity, and their silent role as witnesses to time and its transformation, their inhabitants and their lives with all its variations, became a muse. Shenoy’s subsequent urbanscapes are an impression in time, a fragment of memory and an image of remembrance.
With frequent visits to Europe, a constant source of inspiration for him, Shenoy’s urban structures have evolved organically into fluid forms, and a palpable restraint is evident as he gravitates further towards abstraction in his cityscapes. Yet, the colour palette has intensified and earthy colours have made way for brilliant aquamarines and vermilions. The glint of sunlight on the tranquil waters of the Arabian Sea and the rays of reflected light from the rocks effortlessly merge with newer experiences and memories of distant cityscapes.
A charcoal drawing initiates the process of painting, but soon layers of paint dominate it into a tempered existence, and the play of light, colours and textures highlight and delineate elements into subtly differentiated spaces. The skyline hints at architectural elements, life within its walls, perhaps a bustling neighbourhood or a market.
The absence of human figures in his works is a subtle reference to the ephemeral character of man’s existence, the transience of life, in stark contrast with the remnants and relics of civilizations that survive generations.
The portrait and the soul of a city are construed as an impression, an intuitive process that transforms into meditative images. The city, thus emerges, representative of a collective identity, no longer demarcated by inflexible boundaries, but breathing as a singular being.