Working in oils, Bhujbal creates compositions of colorful, overlapping forms and marks to describe various architectural facades. Despite the geometric quality of even the most abstracted of his cityscapes, intersecting planes and strong shadows nevertheless convey three-dimensionality and depth while expressive, often energetic mark-making augments their emotional complexity. For Bhujbal, architecture provides a tangible scaffolding around which to construct a specific mood or narrative. Many paintings from A Quiet Town series, for example, depict the effects of modernization and population growth on Indian cities. These congested horizons are much different from those of US cities, where urban planning codes have regulated construction and preserved open spaces. In India, on the other hand, buildings seem to sit on top of or melt into each other, creating a disjointed gestalt further fractured by the practice of re-coating selected parts of buildings with vibrant layers of paint. The juxtaposition of old buildings and flashy new architecture and the whirlwind of commercial signboards, banners and colorful stalls – where merchants sell saries and spices – provide the inspirational springboard for Bhujbal’s compositions, which create harmony out of chaos and conflict.
Bhujbal identifies this newest body of work as the product of a journey that began in 2001 with his immigration to the United States. In May of this year he will celebrate a major milestone: his 10-year anniversary. With this in mind, these paintings obliquely engage larger processes of identity, memory, acculturation and the shaping powers of context and association. Bhujbal recalls how, when he first moved to the States, “even [when] I painted locations based in the U.S., I was still searching for ‘India’ in them. Now I am able to look at these locations differently – I am able to see them for what they are.” This is most explicitly evident in A Quiet Town #93, a painting of Fort Mason Center that uses the same slightly offkilter, impossibly colorful, and at times gravity-defying manner with which he renders his portraits of India. Sandwiched between a cool sky above and a calm harbor below, Bhujbal has reduced the iconic warehouse to a band of alternating reds, taupes and browns. Its reflection is enigmatically inscribed in the underlying waters, subverting the strict logic of science in order to capture the magical interplay between San Francisco’s unique quality of light and the surrounding natural and industrial elements.
Suhas Bhujbal was born in 1977 and grew up in Pune, India. In 2001, he moved to San Francisco to pursue his MFA at the Academy of Art University. His paintings have been exhibited at the Coos Art Museum, Coos Bay, OR; The Art Museum of Los Gatos, Los Gatos, CA; The Palm Springs Museum, Palm Springs, CA; The De Saisset Museum, Santa Clara, CA; and The Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, CA.