Painted in 1958, the work on offer falls directly within a transitory phase demonstrating a break from representational art and the beginnings of Gaitonde's focus on the interplay of colour, light and space. Throughout his career, Gaitonde tested the limits of his aesthetic powers, each time coming up with provocative and unique solutions. Within this singular composition, the viewer can sense where he has been and anticipates his future (also refer to lots 2 and 50 for examples of his earlier more figurative style and lot 6 for a painting from 1965).
In this painting, the compartmentalized colour blocks give way to a figure that peaks out from the left side of the canvas. Foretelling of Gaitonde's minimalist landscapes from later in his career, the earthy tones and layered colours are unified similar to the reflection of light in nature. The lone, solitary figure emerges at ease with the natural environment around him.
During the late 1950s, Gaitonde had a studio at the Bhulabhai Desai Road among other painters, thespians, musicians and dancers. He thrived in this interdisciplinary environment and was very fond of Indian classical music and dance. In this exemplar of modernity, the colour blocks build and move in harmony conveying moods and thoughts similar to the beats in music and the steps of a dance sequence.
The colours, shapes and patterns whisper thoughts and ideas in a secret symbolic language. Similar to Adolph Gottlieb's pictograph paintings the colour blocks are in perfect balance but are arranged without a specific sequence or order in mind - they convey Gaitonde's personal vocabulary. In 1955, while discussing his pictograph paintings Adolph Gottlieb commented, "I frequently hear the question, 'What do these images mean?' That is simply the wrong question. Visual images do not have to conform to either verbal thinking or optical facts. A better question would be: 'Do these images convey any emotional truth?'" (A. Gottlieb, as quoted at www.moma.org, accessed on 28 April 2013)
We can assume that Gaitonde, who is often quoted for saying, "I want you to imbibe as much joy on viewing my paintings, as I did while creating them." (V. S. Gaitonde in an interview with M. Lahiri, Patriot, 27 September 1985) would agree with Gotlieb's sentiment. Gaitonde's paintings are not simply material objects, they are sensory experiences that fully engage the viewer with their spellbinding power and magic.