Inside her mind and her art, she is not where she appears to be. The music steals through the provocative whistles of the crowd and penetrates her, transporting her to a world of her own. It is deep, dark inner space with flashes of brilliant colour and whiteness. The same has been captured perfectly by the painter who saw her dance one evening, as could be gleaned from the unusual background of this composition. In it, there is only the artiste and her art which is divine to her if not to anyone else.
She is clad in a skimpy silken costume the colour of fire. Together with the sleeves of grey tulle on her forearms, they reveal rather than conceal her gorgeous frame. Yet, it is not for her to care. In the midst of her sequence she is caught in ecstasy, and there is nothing to inhibit her as she moves.
This contemporary painting by a Delhi-based artist Anup Gomay, rendered in oil on canvas measuring 3ft by 4 feet, portrays a dancer performing all alone, fully enthused and as in ecstasy. Anup Gomay usually prefers a background in deep tones of colours and abstract forms, though unlike the contemporary abstract artists who render such forms for the sake of such forms itself or for emphasizing abstractness in Anup Gomay’s paintings such forms are often symbolic and convey some meaning or at least add thrust to the painting’s central theme. Here the disorderly background with irregular strokes of brush – deep tan, maroon, red, grey and in between patches of white, as well as the dancer’s disordered costume – the sash around her waist, skirt, the dancers’ decorative furs on legs, upper shortie – collected around breasts, sash tied around her knotted hair … all symbolize the burst of energy that the kind of dance she is performing generates. The arms’ resplendent decorative covering, the legs’ fur-fittings and the short skirt – typical of European folk dancers widely used by Helen like hot dance performers in early Indian films attribute to her figure in the painting great ethnicity, medievalism and flavour.
As suggests her specific costume, the fur covering for legs, the arms’ guards and her short skirt in special, she is a dancer in Westernized dance style. The dancer has European appearance, especially in structuring of her face; however, it also blends some moves of Tandava-like Indian dance of dissolution that with the burst of energy dissolves forms and heralds new forms to evolve. In the portrayal Anup Gomay combines a modern abstractionist when doing the background, and a miniaturist when doing portrayal of the dancer. He has most accurately revealed the movement of each mussel, in each one’s projection, every curve and twist of each of her body’s parts, exertion on the face, absorption in eyes, and burst of energy both in her entire being and the background. Besides projecting the dancing figure’s golden complexion against its dark tan the background immensely highlights the theme’s thrust. Thus in iconographic perception Gomay is as accurate as a miniaturist while in overall impact he is a modern abstractionist.
With her angular face – angularity enhancing more towards the chin, elevated cheek-bones, deep socketed eyes expanding across the face, fully closed in ecstasy, thin eye-brows expanding such far as covered the expanse of eyes, broad forehead, sharp but pointed nose with elevated nose-tip, black long hair, high neck and a tall slender figure is a realistic painter’s vision of the dancer. Gomay’s emphasis is on, both, the figure, figure’s beauty as also the figure’s form, in which reveals dance. The dancer’s vigorous and ecstatic moves revealing immense energy and the figure’s beauty – highly balanced and perfect in anatomical proportions, gold-like complexion and sharp features, and every limb gesticulated to a dance-form go together, and the artist does not comprise on either. Strangely, the artist has wondrously combined with vigour and figure’s massive moves absorption and a state as that of trance. Not only its portrayal but also the dance by itself is the great art for dancing all alone she is dancing for own delight, not commercially for viewers.