Archive for June, 2010


Playing with forms

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The works have a dream-like quality.

Neha Sharma Sarai’s works have resulted from a deep dialogue with the self

What appears surreal to a viewer is very real to Neha Sharma Sarai. The artist lives in that world, experiences it, and only then paints it. The forms, patterns and shapes that we see in her ongoing show, “Knot Dot Knot”, the Belgium-based artist says, have come out from deep within and not just an external response to a development in the outer world.

The mesh structures, as in the work titled “Intersections” or the monochrome intricate work “Blue i”, might remind one instantly of the ancient craft of jali work or a batik print, but “it actually is an exploration of the other world,” as Neha describes it.

The works do have a dream-like quality, where sometimes we see shapes and forms that can’t be identified. “But there certainly is a structure and logic to it and it may have references to the textile or craft traditions, but the work is very contemporary,” adds Neha, a product of M.S. University, Baroda, who has debuted in the Capital with this show.

She links the repetitiveness of lines or patterns that so often comes up in her paintings, namely “Earthlines” or “Dry leaves”, again with spirituality or, more specifically, with the act of chanting. “That’s because painting is very sacred for me. There are no political elements at play here,” says Neha. But forms certainly are in her works, which are mostly rendered in natural pigments.

“That’s how I have been working for the last three years, looking into the vocabulary of painting and creating various ways of representation. My search is for ways and forms that touch upon the basis — principles of life,” explains the artist, who is planning to have another show in the city again in August.



Small and subdued – minimalist paintings

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STOP AND THINK: Each painting has a lot to say.

‘18 By 18’ is an intriguing collection of minimalist paintings

For an exhibition described as a ‘happy’ celebration of Spring and Summer, ‘18 By 18′ at Apparao Galleries is surprisingly subdued. The works, all in small format — as the title of the exhibition suggests, tend towards the minimalistic, and somewhat, cerebral, rather than overtly lively or colourful.

Intriguing collection

It does, however, make for an intriguing collection, with the artists drawing inspiration from unusual sources. For instance, you have N. Ramachandran’s fascinating series that juxtaposes today’s tabloid trash and cine gossip against detailed descriptions and diagrams on how to proportion statues of deities from Tamil scriptures (a statement on our current cultural preoccupations?).

Then you have Pravin Sawarkar’s sweetly childlike doodles and drawings of animals and forests, ponds and oceans that recreate a child’s inner artistic world (from ‘ring-a-ring o’ roses’ to ‘A for apple’).

Our urban spaces are explored in a variety of ways, from Uma Shankar Pathak’s deceptively simple re-imaginings of conflict and chaos (filled with whimsy and metaphor upon closer inspection) to a gritty series of photographs.

George K’s pictures of dilapidated, grey-and-brown buildings in Kashmir’s streets are rendered beautiful by their composition and the startling streaks of orange paint across the glass, alongside an all-but invisible line of barbed wire emblematic of the strife in the region.

Varun Gupta’s darkly psychedelic photos capture the essence of another sort of urban space — the clubs with their thumping music and swirling lights, alcohol and Redbull, while Roy Senai’s photos frame the contrasts of our cities — beautiful flowering trees alongside dirty, rusted bridges, for instance.

Some of the works draw upon Nature, such as Neeta Gajam’s uncluttered red-on-white watercolours depicting seeds, germination and the birth of life, or Dignag’s pale watercolours depicting life at its most basic, cellular level.

Pure abstracts

Still others work on pure abstracts, from Monika Solanki’s flowing works, all awash in soft pastel shades of yellow, green and pink to Satish Bhaisare’s chaotic ‘Life on Vertical’ series, filled with a finely-textured set of thin lines falling down the grey or off-white canvas.

And, there’s a whole lot of more, all works that make you stop, maybe, think again. Not necessarily a collection one instantly relates to, but one that has a whole lot to say.