Ink on paper
31 1/2 x 23 3/4 in. (80 x 60.2 cm.)
Signed and dated 'Tyeb 86' lower right
In the current drawing created in 1986, we see elements of the structures, forms and gestures that were to reappear in two later canvases, specifically Figure, painted in 1988 and Two Figures, created in 1994. In all three works, the artist depicts a body seemingly dividing in two, or manifesting as a multi-headed and multi-limbed being. The vertical format of all the works creates an immersive experience that compels the audience to participate in the mute anguish of the central figure.
'Each of Tyeb's paintings act as a silent movie, in which we see mouths screaming, faces distended in terror, flailing limb, thrashing wings; but the artist leaves us to imagine the horror of the sound. These complexities of achievement ensure that Tyeb's art is not simply figurative but rather, is figural: it does not content itself merely with representing the human form, but navigates between abstraction and conceptual play on the one hand, and the illusionism of representation on the other.' (Ranjit Hoskote, Tyeb Mehta: Ideas Images Exchanges, New Delhi, 2005, p. 20)
It has been suggested elsewhere, that these fragmented figures serve in artistic terms as a transitional step between the dislocation of the earlier diagonal series and the later theme of the Mother Goddess. However, despite a trajectory towards a theme of the Divine in his works, Tyeb rejects the idea that his multi-limbed beings are treated in the same manner as the deities of classical Hindu sculpture. Instead, the artist argues that the additional breasts, or hands, or faces act almost as a narrative sequence, rather than representations of alternate manifestations of the same being. The artist explains, 'I use these elements as part of modulating the canvas. Of course, since I'm working with a human figure, there is bound to be movement ... one might also regard these extra limbs or breast as a sort of 'animation' indicating movement.' (Tyeb Mehta in conversation with Nikki Ty-Tomkins Seth, reprinted in Ranjit Hoskote, ibid., p. 343)
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About The Artist:
TYEB MEHTA (1925-2009)