The life and career of Alphonso Arul Doss (1939 – 2021) are closely intertwined with the College of Arts and Crafts where he first studied art, later joined as a teacher and eventually retired as the principal. It was here that he came in contact with legendary teachers such as D. P. Roy Chowdhury, H. V. Ram Gopal, K. C. S. Paniker and S. Dhanapal who equipped him with technical knowledge of art-making while also shaping his views on art. The institution also gave him exposure to artistic traditions from different parts of the world which eventually manifested and enriched his works.
Beginning with works that captured people and places with lyricism Alphonso’s career evolved to creating paintings overlaid with metaphysical overtones. His later works assimilated varied aspects such as elements drawn from Indian philosophy, and facts culled from science and observation. These aspects were tied together through an overarching intellectual framework that was at once both Indian and global. One such concept was the idea of light which manifested in his work both as a theme and as an aspect of his visual language. This fascination with light could be attributed to his childhood exposure to stained glass murals in churches, the chiaroscuro effect in the work of European masters and his subsequent visit to museums abroad where he studied effects caused by light refracting through gemstones. These exposures manifested in his work through a characteristic play of light and dark achieved by modulating minimal amounts of pigment with the white of the canvas. The effect of luminescence so achieved complimented his themes dwelling on various forms of light such as lamps- that signified light in the sensory realm and deities- signifying light in the spiritual and metaphysical realms. In particular, Alphonso was fascinated by the concept of Nataraja which he interpreted through the realm of science, creativity and the cosmos. Parallel to his exploration of the mystical was his fascination for quintessential Indian characters.
A luminous Symphony, showcases the works of Alphonso Arul Doss showcases the works of Alphonso Doss culled from his long career. Featuring diverse themes and genres, these works are not only a testimony to his multifaceted creative prowess but they also reaffirm his place as an important pedagogue and artist of the modern art movement in Madras.