Jyothi BasuJyothi Basu

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"If Jyothi Basu’s iconography of redemption moves us deeply, even in this profane age of split-second gratifications and instant cures, it is precisely because he allows for the warm, human tonalities of the sensuous and the ironic, without confining himself to the austerity of transcendence." - Ranjit Hoskote, 2002

VN Jyothi Basu was born in 1960 in Kerala. After receiving a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree from Trivandrun, the artist joined the MS University in Baroda to obtain his Master’s degree in the same. But to avoid studying Art History, which was one of the compulsory requirements for the MFA course, Basu switched his post graduate stream, and opted for a diploma instead of a degree.

A member of the ‘Radical Group’, which aimed to revolutionize modern art practices and techniques in India in the later 1980’s, Basu has just recently emerged from a painterly hiatus almost ten years long, lasting from 1991 to 1998. Appropriately, in his recent works, the artist seems taken up with the themes of death and resurrection of the individual. Referring to his own rebirth as a painter after nine years of working as a set designer for television channels, Basu’s latest paintings are tinged with tones of the fantastic and ephemeral. But these sweeping landscapes and bright and vivid flora conceal deeper messages - bejeweled flowers are just as prickly as they are pretty. Assaulting the viewer with heady sensuous gratification, these images can just as soon draw blood.

Ranging from charcoal and pastels on paper to oil on canvas, all the works in this latest ‘Resurrection Series’ seem to highlight the ability of the individual to overcome personal obstacles and learn to tackle new ones as they arise instead of bending backwards in front of them. The solitary and twisted trees seem to point this out, whilst the landscapes illustrate the road ahead that needs to be taken step by step.

Acknowledging the debt he has to the imagery of artists like Hieronymus Bosch, Frida Kahlo and Rousseau, Jyothi Basu is truly an artist of the fantastic and natural to be reckoned with in the sphere of Indian contemporary art.

VN Jyothi Basu lives and works in Kerala.


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