Anupras Singh: Year Twenty-Two
Anupras Singh is on a quest for the uncontrollable. The truly organic. What can be more out of control than psychedelic hallucinations?
Anupras is a third year art student. As far as I have known him, he has never been the kind of person to talk, let alone brag about his works. His practice is private. The works- very personal. Shared only among his friends and professors. He is quiet and shabby. Almost always lost within himself. I have rarely seen him work in front of others. You would not look at him twice in a crowd and he would definitely not make eye contact. His works on the other hand are bound to stand out.
Anupras’s academic practice is in sculpture. His works however are exceptionally different from what has come to be expected from his discipline. Specifically from Santiniketan based sculptors. He is not one to disregard those who came before him such as Ramkinkar Vaij or Sarbari Roy Choudhury. He has simply found his own path which can lead to his personal language of expression. His success in this matter came without force. He is different. Not better than anyone else. Definitely not the most hardworking. How he sees, how he feels, separates him from the rest of us.
His sculptures- those he did apart from his academic curriculum- are organic and free-flowing structures. They are not strong sturdy figures. Not figurative or representational in any way. They’re fluid. Clumsy yet somehow sensuous and elegant. They suggest malleability and softness. It is as if a form had begun to transform into another when suddenly Anupras captured it. The motion of transformation stopped mid-way. A motion whose impression still lingers in his sculptures.
Anupras’s drawings are influenced by his work with clay. They seem heavy and voluminous. Within his sketchbooks he has created his own mystical world of colourful creatures, flora and fauna. Each aspect of this world of his seems to connect to the other through innumerable illusory channels. Their apparent dimensions make them almost real. The near magical world of characters that he creates is influenced in part by Zdzislaw Bekinski. All of this develops as he moves from monochrome, charcoal and graphite to colour. Colour seems to have given him a new freedom not only in the way he represents something but also in what he represents. His creatures get more complex, more colourful. Colours have made his works happier, contradictory to what I see in Bekinski’s images of gloom and darkness.
His progress into using oil colours has however pushed him into a realm of visuals similar to Allyson Grey, although just as a beginner. In his paintings he is trying to incorporate the aspects of geometric forms and organic progressions in a symbiotic relationship. Something he believes is very much possible; although, out of his reach at the moment. He started with ideas of organic forms and their progressions in sculpture and drawing then moved on to geometric designs and illusions. Islamic architectural geometry and the makings of illusions. It was only when he started doing watercolour during the pandemic lockdown did he realise the inherent connection between the two. He has been trying to reconcile the gap ever since.
There are two distinct ideas he is working with at this very moment in each new work that he does. One is to create images with colours that go beyond just the usual spectrum that we’re comfortable with. He wants to tap into the infinity that is the grey spectrum. The second is that he wants to work without the existing archetypes of image making around him. Both these ideas are extremely hard for him to fully comprehend at this very moment. Let alone put in practice. He is adamant. He is trying. Given time, he might just come up with a surprisingly well established series of images.
Another aspect of his practice is his continuous studies of himself. The vast body of self-portraits that he does. They began as a way to understand his own anatomy and to help the process of sculpture making. Now it is much more than that. He has incorporated his own image in this colourful world of his. He is not present in the paintings but can be found in many of his drawings. No one self-portrait can truly represent Anupras. Only when brought together can they fully show who he is. These portraits help him understand his state of being. They most clearly bring out how he is viewing himself at that moment. It is this very aspect of constant self-enquiry that, I feel, defines Anupras’s art practice.
At the core of Anupras’s works is his interrogation of the human soul- whether you believe in such an existence or not. He questions and reveals the complexities of his psyche through his works. A simple play with clay is now the revelation of his innermost self- as he peels into himself with each new work. His soul is made incarnate in his representations of the psychedelic.
Most of his works create a visual of continuity and natural progression. It occurs through Anupras yet is beyond his control. His works are as if photographs of a landscape. The photograph itself may be complete but we are constantly aware of the landscape extending beyond the boundaries of the frame. We still consider it a complete work. Anupras doesn’t begin and end on paper. He depicts a certain point in the progression of a pattern. He just begins. Maybe that pattern will never end. At some point the audience must be open to submitting to the greater pattern structure. Anupras did. This is where his exploration of colours began in connection with growing and repeating forms and patterns.
His visuals can at times be a bit disturbing. Rough and crude. Complex. There is, however, an undisturbed flow of sensory input when in contact with his works. What he started in sculpture has only been growing and evolving with his experimentations with watercolours, oil paints and pencils. Not just the volume of works done but the magnitude of each work has been greatly improving. However, in none of these chosen methods of representation has he achieved mastery. No one should expect that of him either. Yet.
If artistic mastery is something that can only be achieved through hard work and ceaseless toil, at this pace, Anupras may never qualify. He does however have something many nowadays apparently lack- a true love and devotion for his craft. Anupras is an artist. He may not know the destination yet but the journey has become enjoyable. His work must continue. His practice has to remain unhindered. All we can do is hope he will not be finished anytime soon. Hopefully, ever.