Art fairs, which nobody loves, have become inescapable venues for sales. Artists prepare at length for them, but with so many pandemic cancellations and online migrations this year, most of those efforts have been in vain. Srijon Chowdhury, who painted fifteen canvases for the Antoine Levi gallery to display at Basel’s summer Liste Fair, is no exception. These are not optimistic compositions. In moody oils that recall the eeriness of a Dorothea Tanning, Chowdhury envisions the evils of capitalism and smart phones, the burning of the world, the unbearably beautiful fragility of bodies, the hurting of nature. A small, all-black painting burns at its center with the halo of a solar eclipse, looking also like fiery hair, a cosmic bellybutton, and the end of the world. Given their dismal outlook, it comes as no surprise to learn that Chowdhury created all of these works after quarantine went into effect. But fifteen? That’s a lot of paintings for a few tortured months. What will he do as the apocalypse continues?
—Lori Waxman 2020-10-09 10:50 AM