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Just A Little While Longer, 
Galerie ISA, Mumbai

This new body of work focuses on domesticity and the celebration of the mundane. The minutiae of life serves as the artist’s prelude. Through an autobiographical lens, Vasan works to create smaller narratives, showcasing moments, spaces and people that are personally significant, while also expanding on memory and nostalgia. Set at home in India and in his apartment and spaces frequented in the United States, these paintings are a blend of the artist’s observations, style, and memories, reconciling the disparate parts of self, and welcoming viewers to step into his shoes and the space. In ‘To See Beyond Everything With Our Eyes Closed,’ we see a panoramic view of the living room and porch of the artist’s girlfriend’s apartment; the spatiality imbued with meaning. Windows, doorways and spaces inside spaces are leitmotifs that are reflected through the show—deriving from the constant movement in the artist’s life and also serving as portals, offering an intimate invitation to the viewer and a glimpse of the other side. On one level, these works reflect Vasan’s dual life as an immigrant, living between two countries and cultures, the idea of being ethnographically a ‘foreigner’ in most of the situations he depicts. These largely empty transitional spaces (as he considers porches, backyards, and fire-escapes) are also a new part of his visual and experiential vocabulary.

Enhancing the geometry of these works, is Vasan’s play of colors; the places split into warm and cool zones. For the artist who is red and green colorblind, the vibrations of color, texture, detailing and contrasts in palette (in the foreground and background) is instrumental in adding a new dimensionality. With this series, the artist is consciously pushing the boundaries of his practice, exploring new directions. Using the traditional form of oil on canvas, Vasan records his process, marking and resolving the surface, adding, shifting details, scraping away, building on layers, some parts beginning, while others are completed; the process of painting itself more revealing than the final result.

Compositionally, historical styles and artistic lineage play an important role. The Italian Renaissance, most specifically, Botticelli and Raphael’s method of inserting themselves in the narrative, are referenced through Vasan’s own likeness, which is in direct interaction with the viewer as seen in ‘I Am Too Afraid to Let All of This Fade Away’. 16th century Dutch painting, known for its elevation of the quotidian, as seen in Pieter De Hooch’s interior exterior spaces and Vermeer’s still lifes and figurative works, are also reflected through this entire series, as is the influence of the Bay Area Figurative Movement, especially Richard Diebenkorn’s geometric and planar use of light and Roland Peterson’s complementary palette.

It’s interesting that for Vasan, who is also a musician, dissonance is at the core of his artistic practice. The haziness of memory, the distortion of events, the warping of recording time, are all explorations he undertakes. Under the umbrella of realism, Vasan delves into the multiplicity of time, turning the photographs that begin his process into a depiction that is far from linear. The paintings, he is quick to emphasize, don’t have to make perfect sense. This is his world, his creation. And in inviting the viewer to experience the intimacy of these spaces, the artist is welcoming them to his created universe, one that is seeped in memory and nostalgia.

-Priyanka R. Khanna

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