Mixed media paintings by Basuki Dasgupta

Basuki Dasgupta is the creator of modern myths and folktales. He recasts and reinvents characters from timeless and ancient stories, archetypal forces and divine energies, in unique and original ways. A luminous pantheon of dusky, slant-eyed and red-lipped goddesses, women and divine beings, inhabit his highly textured, mixed media works – on view at, from July 20th to August 15th. Part-fable, part-contemporary, part-sacred, part-human, the semi abstract, puppet-like figures, draw you into a primordial world of energy, colour and symbolism.

Dasgupta’s works are brewed in a multi-layered cocktail of influences, from the 17th century terracotta temples of Bishnupur in West Bengal (where he spent his childhood) and his love for Baul music to his education at Visva-Bharati in Shantiniketan and the open, blue skies of Tumkur (where he now lives). But it is the mystical theme of ‘Shakti’ or the dynamic and creative feminine principle of the universe, which pervades Dasgupta’s oeuvre. Goddess Durga in her many guises, incarnations and moods, is the main muse and protagonist who radiates and embodies ‘Shakti’, in his paintings. A favourite theme that he depicts, is the slaying of the demon, Mahishasura by Durga, signifying the victory of light over dark, and truth over untruth.

But Dasgupta brings the goddess, down to the earth. His art is influenced by the strong women in his own life, as well the resilience of real, everyday women. Steeped in vivid greens, blues, yellows and reds, the stylized women in his paintings are expressions of primal feminine energy – courageous and compassionate, sometimes intertwined with nature, at one with themselves, still and ever-changing. Dasgupta says, “I grew up in a lower middle class family. When I was young, I used to watch my mother manage everything at home singlehandedly. When there was no water supply in the summer, she would find water. During Durga puja, many people in the locality would paint their houses; my mother would paint our house herself. In my work, the concept of Durga is inspired by my mother, and the women in my paintings often have many hands to signify all of the different roles that women juggle simultaneously.”

Everyday Goddesses also speak the language of the earth. Dasgupta’s lush canvases feature an abundance of flora, foliage, animals, birds, and trees, symbolizing the interconnectedness of life. His non-figurative paintings also take their cues from nature, including the waves of the ocean, the sun, and the landscape of West Bengal. Ancient and at the same time modern, the past seamlessly intersects with the present in unusual and interesting ways, in Dasgupta’s art. Ultimately, the exhibition is a magnificent reminder of the relevance of mythology in our world today, and its power to uplift and inspire.