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Bedtime Stories

Bedtime Stories

October 2, 2015 – October 27, 2015


Artworks in Exhibition


Avishek Sen tantalizes our hunger for the scorchingly erotic that comprises his visual paradigm—the pert contours of ripening bananas, the sticky, sappy entrails of a voluptuous jackfruit, cavernous flowers, oversized pumpkins, and hyperbolic, seed-filled halves of papayas that alternately recur within or alongside carnivorous jaws, probing beaks, disappearing tongues and fish-swallowing fish. Through the liquid lure of his suite of watercolours into which he mingles fragments of glitter, he envisages landscapes of over-abundance. He exposes the naked interior of a sliced pear or hints at a deftly made incision that would allow the tongue to burrow through to the deep core to mine it for the unholy sake of pleasure-seeking and ultimately, self-discovery.

The diptych and, in certain instances, the triptych are the structural units by which Sen extends his narrative, thereby trespassing self-assigned boundaries, encompassing into the orgiastic configuration the striving for that which is within reach yet distant. The hedonistic pursuit is the ideal, despite its irrelevance to the purpose of survival.

Sen’s conflation of different animal forms into one body is a gestural depiction of the multiple identities, sexual or otherwise, that we embody but discover only in the spiritual practice of understanding the self by embracing the complexity of our desire instead of living in denial of its influence. His hybrid, beastly, predatory forms are engaged either in devouring or are eagerly anticipating the moment of feasting. Desire is either being fulfilled or is expecting to be, even though there seems to be no guarantee of immediate gratification. The impulse is not to consume but to succumb to temptation, to gorge upon and not merely to sample. For Sen, the crucial end is to achieve deha tattva, the principle of “understanding the physical body and instincts as a necessary vehicle to reach or bare down to the inner self.”

Each tableau carries within itself the knowledge of previous ecstasy, spawning the thirst for subsequent conquest so that there is only a further spiralling of lust instead of resolution. The testicular sacs and penile projections enlarge with each fresh ingestion of the edible, reflecting an emerging consciousness. The landscape is increasingly infested with heaving fertility. The language of fruits and flowers, traditionally rendered in the form of still life is completely transformed in this elaborate dreamscape. The over-scaled forms are nestled within tongues. They do not speak but quietly secrete.

Sen’s suite of Bedtime Stories delights in its submission to the dizzying eroticism of the grotesquely sensuous minus the burden of virtue. His works are not amoral as much as primal, impelled towards the fine arc of ecstasy, where both the life and death instinct intersect and offer the possibility of transcendence.

Excerpts taken from the essay by Rosalyn D’Mello


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