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A City of Ciphers

Glass and steel seem to now represent the fractured canvas of the imagined city of Mumbai.

The subjects of Sudhir Patwardhan – the Pune-based painter who is among the best of Maharashtra’s artists – are Mumbai’s tenements, creeks, walkways, balconies and factories. Recalling his arrival in the city in the 1970s, he says: “In close-up, the material structures of the city – the pillars and railings, the painted metal of buses and train bogies, in relation to the human bodies – generated active spaces full of tension.”

On canvas, Patwardhan’s perspective is street-level. From this vantage point, things are never entirely within view: people and vehicles momentarily enter, and then vanish. Things can be grasped and felt, but one’s perspective is cluttered. This is a city of adjacent bodies in perpetual motion.

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