Shinde has long been fascinated by the complex weave of human
relationships. For three decades, the play of the emotions
and the crossed textures of perception and misunderstanding
have provided him with the expressive content of his paintings.
As tight-lipped recorder, as vulnerable elegist, and also
as the curious narrator who is both participant and observer,
he has attended carefully to the attempts that individuals
make to reach one another, to share space and time. These
attempts meet with differing degrees of success: they may
culminate in the surprise and fulfilment of encounter, but
they remain, as often, thwarted and inconclusive. On the testimony
of Shinde's paintings, human beings are driven principally
by their passions; they become the playthings rather than
the masters of their desires, with reason mulling over excess
the morning after. And what they accumulate, as they negotiate
the treacherous currents of worldly experience, is a wry wisdom
rather than a balance of happiness.
In his investigations of the life of the passions, accordingly,
the artist has often returned to the bonds that connect
as well as separate men and women, parents and children,
lovers and strangers. He has been especially fascinated
by the metaphorical possibilities of the zoo and the circus
as parallels to the concourse of life with all its difficulties,
predicaments and occasional pleasures. The present exhibition
brings together 21 of his recent paintings, which are cast
as fables or parables in the tradition of Vishnu Sharma,
Aesop and La Rochefoucauld: through these tableaux, Shinde
assembles for us a contemporary Panchatantra.
The protagonists of this Panchatantra for the times are
animals and human beings, as well as gods. Their situations
and relationships express a patient understanding of people
and their foibles, their lack of self-awareness and readiness
to blame or discount others; Shinde brings a pithy wit rather
than an impatient sarcasm to bear on his vignettes, whether
he deals with self-appointed custodians of morality and
rampaging egoists, or tells of flashy rivals in love and
insecure climbers on the evolutionary ladder of social arrival.
We learn more from the whisk of a monkey's tail or the mark
of a tiger's paw than we do from an encyclopaedia of psychological
types; and that is, after all, the aim of the fabular narrative.