At first glance, Boom Box Carrier seems simple.
It has a beige, color-field background. It has basic, wholegrain shapes like, circles and triangles and rectangles. It has one, central figure.
It is stoic and balanced and graceful.
But this ABC digestibility is a disguise; The Boom Box Carrier is up to something.
Is there not an inherently puzzling quality to this woman, this casual stroller, who wears a simple-seamed, lemon custard cardigan and shoulders a gigantic speaker?
Consider what this painting, Boom Box Carrier (29”x32”), an oil painting by Sanjay Sharma, manages to do.
Notice the way that the megaphone obscures the figure’s face. On one hand, she is visually beheaded by the blow horn – quite literally effaced. She becomes this uncanny creature, half-woman and half-speaker – a strange modern myth.
Close up of Boom Box Carrier
However, on the other hand, she is also empowered. She becomes an emblem for the power of speech, language, and sound.
The speaker is an object of not just power, but amplified power.
What the viewer cannot see is her wake of soundwaves. The eyes must understudy the ears and attune into the sound frequency emitted by the Boom Box Carrier.
Sanjay working in his studio
Sharma is from India. He grew up in a rural region called Jharkhand and has since moved to the city of Delhi. He keeps his art culturally rooted and subtly personal. He gathers his motifs from the places with which he is most familiar.
“Loudspeakers are commonly used at loud volumes in mosques and temples in India,” he says.
The concept of Boom Box Carrier comes from an ordinary, seemingly chance encounter. It was taken from single image of a single scene in a movie that he once saw on television. He remembers a man, a boom box, and the loud music pouring from its speakers.
The image stuck with him.
“I later thought of making the painting using a typically Indian context of a man carrying a loud speaker,” he said.
He uses motifs from his own life as a guiding principles and his work has an art historically-steeped sophistication.
He cites The Scream, Edvard Munch’s famous German Expressionist painting from 1893, as one of his influences. He admires the way Munch is able to create sound out of image.
The Scream by Edvard Munch
“I really feel the sound of the scream,” he says.
It asks a challenging, even philosophical question: how do you paint sound?
The goal for both paintings is synesthesia – to cross sensory barriers and be paintings that you can hear. It is an elusive hi-fi quality that gives The Scream its scream, and The Boom Box Carrier its boom.