The reclusive Vasudeo S. Gaitonde disdained popular attempts to classify his work as abstractionist. Initially exposed to reproductions of Paul Klee, Joan Miró, Wassily Kandinsky and Georges Rouault, Gaitonde borrowed various elements from this diverse group with Klee becoming the dominant artistic influence in his 50s era paintings. The break down 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 multilayered, filled with complexity that in essence is an experimentation with the genre of painting itself. The works seem 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 waxes lyrically,"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, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 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." (Meera 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 works have 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. Compare to two related works in the collection of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, published in D. Nadkarni, Gaitonde, New Delhi, Lalit Kala Akademi, 1983, pl. 15 and 16.