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Urban Dreamscape Paintings by Indrajeet Chandrachud
by Patrick Neal on July 19, 2012, Boro

The lobby at the entrance of the Secret Theatre in Long Island City is serving as an effective exhibition space for visual artists. A clean, whitewashed rectangle, the room is a perfect setting for the bright, simple paintings of Indrajeet Chandrachud who is having the space’s inaugural exhibit.

The acrylic paintings, in blocky geometric shapes with primary colors make it easy to see how Chadrachud is indebted to minimalism. The artist paints industrial cityscapes based on his travels in Europe, Latin America, India and the USA (there are traces of the streets of both Sunnyside and Long Island City). The distinct architecture of various locales is abstracted; flattened out and keyed up offering a heightened visual dreamscape. Much of the broader underlying expanses and forms are rendered with an economy of means; blocked in with large simple strokes, paint appears to be troweled on with a palette knife rendering sky, building facade or road. Surfaces are often tacky in places, splotched, scraped or pooling, suggesting the roughened texture of shingles, wood, the wear and tear on concrete or the elements, sky, smoke and earth. In some works, a varnish or extender in the paint allows for glazes; A Little Vacation in Shista, depicting the shadows of rooftops falling on the walls of a shanty town are overlaid with translucency creating a stained glass effect.

As formally arresting as the paintings can be, they are also whimsical and wry in their subject matter. With quirky, often commercial settings and witty titles (I’ll Wait For You At The Table By The Window), the works betray a dry sense of humor akin to the British strain of Pop Art. Individual locations are caricatured with charming details and a sensitivity to the “feel” of a place that brings to mind the humor of David Hockney and Peter Blake. Against his textured grounds, Chandrachud sensitively models a smokestack, newspaper stand, steam drum or the aluminum diamonds on a catwalk rail.

In an artist’s statement, Chandrachud mentions the surreal quality of his work, and certainly, the deserted, enigmatic streets he imagines manage to happily spin, while conjuring up, the spooky “no man’s land” of De Chirico. Suburban and urban commercial strips have been fodder for many young realists of late. The faux materials and simulated architecture may be the perfect subjects for contemporary landscape painters disillusioned with mediated experiences or the inauthenticity of mark making itself. In this way, these prefabricated vistas serve as scaffolds on which to “hang” painterly marks that can echo in their variety and eccentricity, the logos, veneers, banners and synthetic glitz of so much consumer culture. Like the painter, Karla Wozniak, Chandrachud is fond of commercial signage and theme park environments spread about cross country; sources both artists use to innervate paint handling. Chandrachud’s work is decidedly upbeat, fantastical almost child-like. It’s a pleasure to see how he transforms flat, stenciled lines into yellow highway stripes or the corrugations of an awning or envisions a generic storefront as something strange and otherworldly.

Urban Dreamscape Paintings by Indrajeet Chandrachud
The Gallery at The Secret Theatre,
44-02 23rd Street, Long Island City, NY 11101
July 12–July 22, 2012
Hours: Monday - Friday, 10am - 5pm and during theater events.
www.secrettheatre.com / gallery@secrettheatre.com / phone: 718-392-0722

Urban Dreamscape Paintings by Indrajeet Chandrachud
2012