Sudip Roy - A Master of Color

Oil on canvas, 53 x 53 inches.
  • Sonia Nayyar Patwardhan, the curator and founder of Laasya Art gallery in Palo Alto, California, shares her insights on contemporary Indian artist Sudip Roy’s impressively wide range of technical skill and subject matter.

I was first introduced to contemporary Indian artist Sudip Roy’s original works in 2008, during a visit to leading artist Laxman Aelay’s studio. On Laxman’s desk, I saw a calendar that featured 12 gorgeous oil paintings, one for each month. The paintings were semi-nude scenes inspired by Satyajit Ray’s 1964 movie ‘Charulata,’ but these nudes were of a different kind: sensual, understated, subtle and mesmerizing. I knew right then that I had to meet this artist and learn more about his journey. That artist was Sudip Roy, of course, and that’s when our long personal association and professional collaboration at Laasya Art began.

Charulata, Watercolor on paper, 30 x 22 inches.

While I was initially drawn to his Charulata series, over time I have grown to know and appreciate his great range of creative output. Art by Sudip Roy demonstrates an extremely high level of skill across mediums, from charcoal on paper and oil on canvas to watercolors on paper and wash paintings. He also has the courage to experiment with different themes and subjects, knowing very well that many of these are not mainstream and will likely take time to sell. In 2011, for example, Sudip’s trilogy of paintings depicting Christ, Gandhi and Mother Theresa won the prestigious Lorenzo il Magnifico award at the Florence Biennale. It takes firm self-belief to deviate from the safest path, but Sudip is committed to pursuing excellence and innovation in his art.

Christ, Wash on paper, 40 x 58 inches.

I am particularly impressed by Sudip’s watercolors, which capture the nuances of life in India that have now begun to disappear from urban areas like the hand-pulled rickshaws in Calcutta, or a vendor carrying loads of straw baskets on his cycle. He travels frequently for inspiration, taking several weeks at a time to visit various cities across India. Watercolors are particularly difficult to paint as the application cannot be undone, unlike in acrylic and oil paintings where one can apply another layer of paint to correct an error. 

Husain Saheb, Charcoal on paper, 48 x 60 inches.

His abstracts are also exquisite, and I have been lucky to witness him painting these in person, when he enters a state of flow and becomes fully absorbed in the process. Each canvas is an explosion of saturated colors, like clouds in the sky or crashing waves. Sudip’s pure joy of painting truly comes across in the magical results, like we see in this recent commission.

Artist Sudip Roy shown with his recent abstract painting.

Over a decade after first encountering his work, I am delighted to feature Sudip as one of Laasya’s artists. From beautiful abstract canvases to a stunning charcoal portrait of M.F. Husain and an original watercolor of Charulata, I hope you will find Sudip’s art as deeply touching as I do.

DISCLAIMER AND CREDITS: All images are reproduced here courtesy of the artists and Laasya Art gallery, Palo Alto. They may not be reproduced elsewhere without written permission from Laasya Art. All pictures by Sudip Roy.

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