November 7th - December 19th 2008
Presenting an in-depth investigation into the inexorable growth of the cities of Bombay, Kolkata and Delhi, Das’s subjective archive of archaeological and architectural fragments is a series of conceptual montages that mirror the layered surface of these cities. A wide range of works will be presented at Delaye | Saltoun, with more than forty pieces produced by the artist over the last 4 years.
Sprawling cities are reshaping the social geography of many nations, and are a highly significant and global phenomenon of our time. For Samit Das, the urban landscape of India is a subject with multiple facets. Its frantic development, while economically progressive, is also ruthlessly eradicating the marks of past human achievement. The relentless motion of the city means that it perpetually redefines itself in the cycle of creation and destruction. In his series, ‘The Goddess’, Das photographed the plaster figures of Durga produced by the thousands in Kolkata for the Durga Puja (Durga Festival), and thrown in the Hooghly river after three days of frantic celebration. The goddess figures become an allegory to the image of the city: seductive, exciting yet fragile and expendable.
Samit Das is a flaneur in search of this complex topography. He uses multiple mediums to grasp the seemingly intangible evocations of the cityscape and its many constructs. Whether with pencil, paint, video or photography he depicts the rich sub-text of the city through its architecture, signage, graffiti and street art, all visions of the past tucked in-between urban layers. Das’s work has the intimacy of an artist’s notebook, sketching the ephemeral, opening a concertina of a mental jigsaw. Behind the compositions, Das engages with the remnants of meaning in the urban environment; the signs of past moments in culture, society and history. His compelling maquettes, his three-dimensional drawings and superimposed collages form a powerful vision of the modern city. There is no nostalgic element to this confrontation between past and present; instead, Samit Das brings the suggestion of something that is as durable and fragile as its transient subject matter.