Amitesh Shrivastava

Project 88
Narayan A Sawant Road, Colaba, BMP Building, Gound Floor
August 10, 2017–September 30, 2017

Amitesh Shrivastava, Translators II, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 84".

Animals and humans appear in flashes then dissolve into ambiguous textures in Amitesh Shrivastava’s paintings. Their earthy palette, with highlights of blue and green, and thick brushstrokes leave the forms in a state of suspension between body and landscape. In Translators I, 2017, there is a forested terrain with cliffs, which could also be the furry backs of swiftly moving animals, fleeing or gathering for an attack. These two aspects of the painting seemingly pull in and out of focus, offering us muddled memories or a dream.

Exhibition didactics reveal that the scenes depict rural India, where low-ranking officers and opportunistic politicians (shown hearing pleas in Assignation, 2017, and delivering statements in Translators II, 2017) control the fate of the land and the people. Around them, crowds and herds gather, and there’s no knowing whether it is in anger or admiration: Is the toppled, plunging car in Trespassers II, the result of sabotage or an accident? Only the wild, furry-backed, and sharp-clawed creatures traverse the canvases with purpose. They are quick-witted interlopers among gangs and hordes making competing claims.

Shrivastava’s characters become sharper—and the narratives more linear—in his drawings. “Librarian & Anteaters,” 2016–17, is a fantastical series about a collaboration between hungry anteaters and a librarian facing a termite problem. A hopeful story, it offers a peaceful instance of coexistence within a show largely concerned with malaise and confrontation.

— Zeenat Nagree