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A Journey of Spiritual Abstraction

by Shujaat Mirza

L&P Hutheesing Visual Art Centre, CEPT University,

Kasturbhai Lalbhai Campus, Ahmedabad

Ajay Choudhary has been successfully managing the twin responsibilities of an officer in the Indian Police Service (IPS) and as a self-taught artist. He has maintained a fidelity to both his profession and his passion in a unique case of work-life balance. Over an artistic career spanning more than 20 years and numerous solo exhibitions, he has carved out a niche for himself, working within the traditions of abstract art in the broader sense of its expressive intent and urge towards minimalism. He has purposefully shunned the figurative aspects of art, overlooking expectations of a linear narrative that underpins many art practices. His art is situated in a particular inspirational torque but as a medium of self-expression even as he submits himself to the Indian ethos.

Through his works Choudhary allows the spiritual inner churn to pan out into a bare essence of the self after the annihilation of the bonfires of vanity. His art posits a rarefied reality that sees itself in relation to the brahm tatva and drives spokes in the wheels of the egocentric, persona-driven ideal and conception of modern art.

As he himself says, "An artwork is an x-ray of the artist," and by extension, a reflection of the artist’s personality. One can know the person through his work and when understood in that sense, the responsibility of the artist grows manifold to present an authentic self-image that mirrors in the works as transparently as possible.

Abstract, Live painting demo on canvas at the opening

In the ongoing exhibition, Abstract, open till 31 December 2020 at the Hutheesing Visual Art Centre, Ahmedabad, he has delved into the heart of materiality and process-driven mechanisms, beyond the confines of either a raw physicality of a fixed canvas or the limitations of set methodologies. In a series of works using door frames, he has worked his process on them using found objects and everyday discards such as packaging material, corrugated cardboard sheets, handmade paper and paint (mostly in earth tones with sparing use of colours), to make a pastiche of pain. The works evoke emotions akin to a tandav from which a beautiful creation takes birth: a renewal and realignment with the natural flow of the Brahmaand. In that sense his work is part of the eternal flow of a bauddhik sampada, which is the fount of our cultural strain and can be translated roughly as the collective 'intellectual capital'.

Door panels, 72 inches × 36 inches each, mixed media

He does make a willing acceptance of his indebtedness in these works to Somanth Hore's pioneering series of tactile, visual-linguistic, exploratory and expressive works called '”Wounds'' that attempted to simulate inflicted wounds on paper pulp prints. His other favourite artists include Robert Rauschenberg, Anselm Kiefer, Anthony van Dyck – he seems to enjoy their experimentation in terms of subject matter, scale and process and their effortless command over the medium and in their own singular styles and preferences. While capturing the essence from these and other artists, he crafts its spirit in his own idiom without any subservience to established styles. Choudhary constantly overreaches and extends his aesthetics and ambition to scale up and transform the skill sets required to do justice to his imagination. Some of this imaginative expansiveness also comes from a lifelong love affair with Gerhard Richter's playing with scale, form and method. In doing so, he reflects the reality of the experienced present as it develops in a uniquely individualistic manner.

In Ajay Choudhary’s art there is a loosely diffused spiritual exegesis that is suffused kinetically. The bhava-vishwa or the emotional world is led towards the brahm-aakar, i.e. is the merging of the soul with the supreme consciousness. This state ultimately transcends into the niraakar state of complete emptiness of being, entering into a floating, abstract and effortless state of nothingness. This is germane to his entire artistic process.

Installation, mixed media

Abstract, 36 inches × 24 inches, cardboard, paper pulp and paint on canvas

Thus, his abstract art is purposed to a different dynamic and repositioning as being not merely an expression of an artistic impulse but of a higher calling and,perhaps, to a higher force. It exists in "the frequency of thoughts and ideas that arise from a deep contemplative state," as he terms it; a lightness of being that is difficult to freeze in that moment except by a practised inner eye. This simultaneous process of awakened awareness and completely isolative emptiness brings the art to a spot of comfortable playfulness: an unpretentious, supple and light expressionism. It is a journey that may be revisited only when one has mastered it. And in Ajay Choudhary's case, it is a slow, restitutive and restorative process of removal of ego traps and a discovery of the inner centre. He willingly chooses to do away with the prohibitory aabha mandal (halo) around the process and production of art, making it both accessible and inclusive.

MF Husain's appreciation letter of Ajay Choudhury's work

The exhibition, Abstract, will remain open till 31 December 2020 at the L&P Hutheesing Visual Art Centre, CEPT University, Kasturbhai Lalbhai Campus, Ahmedabad

(Images courtesy of Shujaat Mirza)


Shujaat Mirza is an intrepid art aficionado, curator and critic, with a passion for

multidisciplinary art. His primary area of interest is art at the intersection of visual aesthetics and verbal semantics. He is also a poet and writer and his work has been published online as well as in literary magazines.

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