The reclusive Vasudeo S. Gaitonde disdained popular attempts to classify his work as abstractionist. The breakdown of representation seen in his use of symbols, calligraphic elements and hieroglyphs, served as a bridge into Gaitonde's later fully abstracted paintings, as his concurrent study of Zen Buddhism began to further influence his thought processes and his art. Using both a roller and a palette knife, he scrupulously manipulates and mixes different mediums on the canvas, coordinating spontaneous reactions with such precision that they seem to deny the notion of accidental elements. His subsequent work is multi-layered and filled with complexity that in essence is an experimentation with the genre of painting itself. The work seems to straddle the duality between density and weightlessness and between form and formlessness producing a tension between the translucent surface and almost primordial background. Various art historians have commented on this labor-intensive method that defines Gaitonde's unique style. N. Tuli writes "Gaitonde's explorations regarding the luminosities and densities of colour, could best be clarified if one tries to imagine the formation of puddles of water on a marble floor, hand in hand with their consequent drying process. Random shapes emerge only to disappear and re-emerge." (N. Tuli, Indian Contemporary Painting, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 1998, p. 258) The artist himself refers to his work as [...] a play of light and color [...] Every painting has a seed which germinates in the next painting. A painting is not limited to one canvas. I go on adding an element and that's how it evolves...There is a kind of metamorphosis in every canvas and the metamorphosis never ends. (M. Menezes, 'The Meditative Brushstroke', Art India, vol. 3, issue 3, July - September 1998, Mumbai, p. 69)
Like the Zen philosophy and ancient calligraphy he quotes, Gaitonde's work has an inherent structure and control in the midst of its seemingly free-flowing stream of consciousness. Traversing the delicate balance of light, texture, color, and space, Gaitonde's paintings elicit new discoveries with each viewing.