Deepak 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.