Curated by Ambika Trasi and featuring Abir Karmakar’s most recent oil paintings of his city of residence, Baroda, in Gujrat, India is opening at the famous Aicon Gallery7 in New York City on Thursday, November 2, 6-8pm with an artist talk from 7:30-pm
Born in Siliguri in West Bengal, the works in Nightjar consider the artist’s relationship to the Baroda as a resident whose roots are removed from the local culture and who does not speak the
regional language or have access to a community. At a time when right wing politics and Hindu nationalism have taken hold in India, there is a sense of mounting insularity throughout the nation, as well as a distrust and social alienation of migrants and minority residents.
Karmakar’s eye is keen and observant, enabled by his invisibility and illegible presence. His paintings consider the psychogeography of the city: the social and psychological effects of urban architecture on the individual and community. His use of hyperreal and trompe l'oeil aesthetics give his works a filmic quality that push the boundaries of painting and blur reality and fiction. Through his style, the artist creates a simulacrum of the city: one that is stark and eerily absent of people– a Baroda that feels closer to his own (and to the outsider’s, migrant’s, or other’s) lived experience of it.
Yet throughout Karmakar’s paintings, nature transgresses and declares itself an uncontainable force that resists the dense concrete of Baroda. Unruly shrubs and grasses are seen growing outside of the homes and over the walls and gates in his Dead Hours series. The artist’s skies, meanwhile, appear pastoral and boundless. In Towards Oblivion, Karmakar removes any specific markers of location or time to disorient the viewer and create a transcendental experience. The sky acts as a sublime space that provides respite from the solid, angular structures of the built environment and from earthly notions of property and borders. In painting the piece, Karmakar blends into his environment like a nightjar or a transparent eyeball, underlining his (and everyone’s) fundamental right to belong.
An accompanying exhibition catalog for Abir Karmakar: Nightjar is available for purchase through the gallery. The publication features an essay by curator Ambika Trasi and includes illustrations of all 12 of Karmakar’s paintings from the exhibition. Nightjar will be on view from November 2 through December 2, 2023. For more information, please [email protected]