There is a web-like, diaphanous quality to Manav Gupta’s watercolors; ephemeral shapes are caught in shafts of colored light. A bird perches momentarily on an invisible branch. It does not seem like the bird will flyaway; but it could disintegrate into the forms from which it was made; or slip into spaces between colors.
A tall, translucent iceberg in a painting made of elusive blues holds two fragile white ships, so small they might not be seen. This is the imperial, icy arctic which once reigned in solitude over the top of the world; and which now is sliding into the sea.
The sunset is not behind that lone pine tree; instead it burns the branches and turns the sky cobalt blue. Among the many abstracts fragmented like cut jewels, I see the distinctive shadow of Mughal architecture anchoring the ground which disappears in a swirl of earth. And this is the painting destined to leave with me. It is, like many works in the exhibition, a miniature in modern incarnation of the ancient Persian art brought to India by emperors so many centuries ago.