An aesthetic of transition
The question of intercultural influences gets interesting to investigate in the case of painting, when two major schools meet one artist's genius. Surrealism, far from Belgium spread out of Europe… from Magritte to Jean Letschert who moved to India (and became Asokan's guru — a painter of tantric inspiration). Surrealism happened to "swarm" the lands of South India. However, it is important to stress that when Asokan says he paints what he perceives and collects from nature, it has a particular meaning in the place where he lives and was brought up. Being totally immersed in his own culture, Asokan's art is dedicated to tradition. His paintings depict a journey in the manifestation of the inside, a world wthin the the world we may travel in. Yet, Max Ernst and his mineral landscapes, Dali with his paramount godlike sceneries seem to be not far away from Asokan's vocabulary.
The artist and the tantrist does not describe the dimension of the dream such as what we usually refer when in Europe, the models of psychoanalysis imposed upon the surrealist artists. He will not be looking for finds; the inventory of surrealism devices being full of "lost and found" objects, psychological keys, symbols, scorias — where the surface of the canvas becomes an extension of the mind. Asokan's paintings are more a phenomenon of the senses, free from social implications and signs.
The first painting period is impregnated with a powerful celebration of an archaic time — a Dravidian time (Pilgrimage). The search for redefinition of architectural structures, ponds, oceans, asymmetric reflected pools, and landscapes stacked in hyper brilliant palettes. Unveiling his subjectivity, the artist will not repeat the vision of the material world, he will echo the "blues" of humankind by carving light into memory, a movement sometimes depicted "vertically" to the eye of the spectator, as if we were looking straight down to a gigantic cave, rather than using conventional representations of perspective, or (conventional) ways to break it.
There are the pearls : memories of primal scenes, groups of perfect people, gods still unborn from the sands, sights of oceans bathed in crepuscular light. A game with focus; from pure fantasies (Ocean View) to elaborate cosmic views. By using variations in the horizon line and the vanishing point for each subject, almost like a statement, no physical rules could govern the eye of the painter and his "geographical" situation. Detail after detail, a sense of total dramatisation develops its moods on canvas. The painter minutely raises its decks, bridges, links of any kind, to insure "transitory force", evading none of the crucial steps from any mysterious passage, with their figurative stages of joins, pipes, colored nuclei of physical energy juxtapositions; each and every one composing the reality of a rare spiritual unbridled experience. Asokan takes us and walks us — as a tantrist — from "image" to "image" like a tightrope walker across metaphysical aporias. It looks like we are also crossing at the same time unknown abysses of human experiences, that Asokan keeps silent, but not blind to the heart.
Docteur en ethnoscénologie