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Being totally immersed in his own culture, Asokan’s art is dedicated to tradition. His paintings depict a journey in the manifestation of the inside, a world within the world we may travel in. Yet, Max Ernst and his mineral landscapes, Dali with his paramount godlike sceneries seem to be not far away from Asokan’s vocabulary.

Artist Reviews

Spiritual endeavor
For those who thought the idea of nature was a matter of science, or a “green” concern, painter Asokan, heir of two major schools : the European surrealist movement by René Magritte and Jean Letschert, and the South Indian tantric school, may open a new door in both figurative art and abstract art. No end to cross; deepening ties, looking to infinity but scaled to human pace, his exploration leads to kingdoms, the vegetal and mineral ones mostly, depicting any bloom, petal by petal, vein after vein, while a bare anthropomorphic entity uncovers, fresh in every vision. These past years, Asokan has been working on the project of “Goddesses”, after a period where his production was mostly influenced by surrealism, his brush affixing the seal of sanctity on canvas. An orderly creative process into fabulous holy lands, an escalation and elevation finally leads to new plans. It is the second period.

As feminine creatures get loose in the foreground, the moment they finally appear within sight, a shift is slightly created by an optical trick. His painting technique works perfectly to that end. The impressive hieratic sense of the figure being modelled as well into some kind of abandonment and serenity; one never knows what is more compelling, stone or breeze? Deities do not stop their graphic line tension, between the origin from where the painter extracted them, and the foreground where they keep being “sent back” as a figure. A bond full of energy, meant for contemplation and mental activity. This process, peculiar to the culture of South India is certainly foreign in European countries as a system, for such exploration is derived and applied to contemporary art.

No flesh for deities, in the sense that Renoir has portrayed this organic material, subjective and social vitality, its intoxicative promise. Most of the time Asokan abstracts flesh, he substitutes the contour and infuses it with a vital network fed by colour partitions, and light. Though rendering Beauty may be terrifying: the ageless woman and still so fragile (Goddess 20), holding a rose in her hand and kissing its petals, is one steeped in naturalness. At the same time, sign of death and yet reconstructed by the roots up, she is giving birth to this world, as Beckett says, “death is dead because time is dead”. Besides, the artist has set up his easel in a nature-drenched tropical light rich in nuances, with golden overtones and clear blue sky in continuation with the surrealist “legacy”, which may look familiar at that point to European and Indian eyes.
Dr Marc LAMBERT
Laboratoire d’ethnoscénologie Université de Vincennes Saint-Denis, Paris
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