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Artist Kishor Mehta

Kishor Mehta's paintings are symmetrical a harmony and so richly a composite of genres (mythology in abstraction that amounts to a complex poem) that their anomalies aren't immediately apparent. He himself has pointed out that it's a painting by a graphic artist and his habitual left-right symmetry, his truthful rendering of materials, his eloquent distribution of light announce his distinction. They also include his painting in the art of our time, for beneath (or inside) most Mehta's, there is a splendidly abstract design. Our guide to seeing this can be found in the most primitive art to survive into our time, that of the Dogon of sub-Saharan West Africa. The Dogon use four ways of making an image: a pattern of dots (as stars in a constellation, or the location of posts in the plan of a house); the connecting of the dots with lines (giving a legible abstraction); a filling in of detail to achieve what we would call a drawing; and the filling out into three dimensions to make a sculpture, a mask, a granary, or a house.

I see this love of symmetry in Mehta's as an emotional geometry imposing order not only on the visual but on the moral as well, this severe symmetry gradually gave way to explorations of asymmetry as Mehta's meditations became richly sensual and intimate.

For Kishore Mehta is, to date, an essentially existential artist. His paintings say this is. His transition has been from this is how things are to this exists: look. This transition involved subtle changes in rendering; cloth became stylized, for instance, not seen cloth but Mehta's imaginary cloth, with its own way of lying in folds, its own diaphanous difference, its own poetry of the eye.

In these current works, we see an age-old problem being solved, the conjunction of the real and the imaginary, the factual and the ideal. Gold leaf cooperates with graphite in one canvas, color with grisaille, a literally drawn body with an ideal of beauty. It's as if Mehta, having so often reversed the process, working outward from a mystical presence to a realistic surface of flesh.

Practically all of Mehta's works wear the question "Why are you drawing me?"—. To the answer "Because, you exist" we need to add that art exists, too, an intelligible world inside a largely unintelligible one.

Abhijeet Gondkar - Mumbai