The paintings of David Kandalkar live of opposites. Geometric elements, that are developed out of the rectangular principle, run into precise, dynamic-round, informal oscillation bands; the viewer sees them as stretched steel springs. Precise elements are contrasted with diffused elements. Accordingly, there are parts – grids of lines and squares, dominating diagonals all of them equally strong – that are «painted» with air brush whereas other parts – especially the backgrounds – are kept in open runs of colour. The dialectics of rigidity and movement dominate the theme on the canvas, arranged forms in perfect order are opposed to unarranged forms in perfect order. Very often his paintings are designed as diptychs or triptychs and the theme shows a development in time; the springs are more or less squeezed together, the same elements appear at several places, as if they were «stills» of a film.

Space itself is open, or what is more: it is not definable. The effect of it seems much too three-dimensional, pointing to David Kandalkar the sculptor, as the influences of a frieze-like, bent rectangular structure, the two parts of which run into each other at a given point, can easily create a space in which the viewer no longer distinguishes what is in the background and what is in front. This is emphasized by the oscillation bands mentioned before, which used to grow out of the horizontal; today, in his last works, they are diagonal and inclined. Whereas the colours correspond to each other in the geometric elements and in the diffused background, they are bright, opaque and paste-like in the bands. To increase the mysterious effect, the «steel springs» are often placed in front of a space comparable to a curtain; yet, the point in this space can hardly be defined rationally. A graded spatiality dominates the painting, it is suggested that there is movement in space.

David Kandalkar’s works, however, are not complicated or confusing – it is only their unmistakable clarity in the composition; which is also due to his way of procedure: he does not sketch, but composes in his mind how the outline is going to look like. During the realization the preconceived outline is hardly changed. He is committed to translate a complex of questions like war and peace or the problems with the environment into pictorial ideas, without going into the theme directly. He also deals with philosophical thoughts, e.g. of positive and negative energy. So, it is not surprising that he works on several canvases at the same time, refusing to give them a title. He is actually of the opinion that if a viewer reacts to a painting, it can be considered as a work that turned out well.

He uses various techniques to apply his colours of which he prefers green, blue and black shades. Generally speaking, the geometric elements, i.e. the line and square grids but also the diagonals, are created with air brush. For the backgrounds or the faces he uses the brush or the roller. At first sight these parts seem monochrome, but the longer the viewers concentrate on these parts, the more they can discover different shades of colour. Runs of colour are created by using the technique of overlaying different transparent colour layers. Thus, in the case of some works, only a few layers are on top of each other, whereas others show relatively many layers. In addition, he «opens up» the individual colour surfaces by overlaying them with a dot-like grid; this creates a cloudy character or mixtures of light blue or light grey green, for example a strong green tissue. All this strengthens the non-symmetrical composition, as «no object belongs into the middle of the painting», according to David Kandalkar, who originates from India, trained in Israel, and works in England and in Switzerland, and by which he refers to his teacher Marcel Janco. Recently, he has slightly broken the rigid composition of forms: the uniform diagonals have turned into zigzag lines, the oscillation bands are partially no longer directed left and right, but arise from a nucleus and meander upwards like vegetable forms or blossoms. Calligraphic signs are pushed to the side and form a counterweight to the horizontal that is now the dominating element.

How can the work of David Kandalkar be classified? For some it is not enough geometric, for others it is not enough informal. This is however contrasted by the fact that he has achieved an artistic symbiosis, which is self-explanatory – despite the philosophical influences of the East as well as the Western influences of art history. «Only open secrets are effective» – the viewer is invited to embark on an expedition.

John Matheson