Roy’s engagement with painting has always been with materiality; right from his very early experiments, his journey into multiple and shaped canvases, the corrugated cardboard carton period, and lately in his combination of drawing, marking, painting and overlaying actions that mark his watercolour series.
The artist takes away the human agency as the prime actors of the drama, but the human presence is everywhere. His spaces are frozen moments of cinematic tension that goes much beyond photo-based mediatic realism. These everyday spaces carry the empathy of intimacy achieved through experiences and memories. They seem to want to tell a story and stay silent about what the story could be. A sense of silence, of foreboding, a hint of violence lurks just behind the surface of the quotidian.
Mezzaterra means common ground. It is an imagined territory, an idea, but a very real and pervasive one, where echoes and reflections add depth and perspective, where identities are malleable and overlapping and not clear cut and well defined, where binaries are not the only defining theme. Inhabiting the mezzaterra means one is both inside and outside of language, of culture and thestance can be both critical and empathetic.
Sometime in 2019 I went to see a cactus garden. They wanted us to create a mural there that will accommodate both a stylised representation of the cacti and a realistic one of our political masters on the same wall! An idea replete with unacknowledged ironies. I took a good look and documented some of the specimens on display of these strange looking, hardy, adaptive plants known to survive in harsh conditions where little else can. These cacti come in all shapes and sizes and often display perfect geometry and stunning patterns of form that invites touch but for the visible hostility the spikey thorns! ‘Spine’ is what these thorns are called technically and touch you must not! The attraction and repulsion, the lure laced with danger that resides even in the smallest specimens is hard to overlook.
Then the pandemic hit us with its full force and stopped life, as we knew it. Initially it all seemed like a temporary short term measure but as the days rolled into weeks, weeks into months, several new words quickly entered into our ever-expanding vocabulary, a realisation dawned that perhaps some things are going to change for good. There are so many imponderables but one thing is certain that there is no certainty worth talking about! It perhaps allows for a pause, a dot in time to reflect and even a possibility to hit the reset button – nobody knows. Things presumed to be normal are liable to change with a very short notice in the new normal. The images in this set chose to come tumbling out at that moment, almost on their own and that is all there is!