Sandeep Mukherjee ’s studio isn’t far from my home, and I often go there as a break from my own work. In the past year, more often than not, he’s sitting on a massive painting, with a rag and a bowl of Windex, wiping away at blues and greens covering the floor like a reverse fresco. His images resist representation and call to mind a thing covered over, the thing that seems of nature but is not named in the natural world.
Sandeep, at times, works on canvas painted years before, and therefore his paintings have complex color histories that the Windex chemically dissolves but cannot completely erase. The name for this form is pentimento, where the earlier image, reduced to a color memory or trace, stays present. His process reveals sediment of color, as when one digs through layers of sand until the grains meet the darkness of the ocean. The difference here is that the Windex lightens. Eventually, it’s as if behind the massive canvas the sun is waiting. Sandeep’s mode of erasure peels back years of work, work that has been put aside, returned to and painted over, creating a depth of field.