About, within and with nature

About, within and with nature

These two categories of art corresponded to the artist’s two, quite different approaches, one allowing her to depict the matter and mood of the surroundings while suggesting her experience of immersion within it, the other stimulating her to intervene in the organic world and work together with it using its own substances along with their intrinsic forms, colours and textures to create temporary, site-specific images, as her presence and response to the place became marked as well. Bhavani’s effort came through as sincere, authentically felt and involved, whereas its results were not entirely even, oscillating between fine and pedestrian qualities.

One responded with pleasure to the brief and restrained, almost abstract but intense and succinct, fragmentary brush drawings of dry boughs and foliage, in particular to the black and white ones whose minimal strokes married a realistic foundation with a tinge of what seemed like Far Eastern shorthand.

The larger canvases were perhaps less exciting, since they did not quite resolve the merger, or often mere superimposition, between the atmospheric abstraction over blurring, richly textured, dynamic hues and the linear, more descriptive motifs with trees, foliage and grasses, the impact turning slightly decorative.

The photographs which documented as well as evoked Bhavani’s intimate but also concept-based interaction with nature had a number of strong, lyrical instances but also some that appeared to be spent on a quick effect.

Although conjuring live paintings of bright leaves framed by branches or building from pebbles pathways and circles in river bodies has its famous precedents, it nonetheless offers a potential for its original or at least subtle extensions.

Here too, one found some beautiful scenes when the artist’s gesture in an attuned manner complemented and enhanced certain traits inherent in the environment, like in the picture of slender reeds now gently knotted in tune with the water rhythm or in the print that threw a light human shadow on the surface of clear water to absorb the throb of its stony bottom.

The leaf and seed ‘canvases’, however, seemed somewhat obvious and formalist despite the rawness of the natural material.

Since much depends in such cases on the ability of the photographer, a single print on a theme may not have always convinced, whereas the slightly varied array of shots with the artist’s feet standing in layered, swirling ripples of water sensitively conjured the feel of a soothing, perhaps purifying touch.
Marta Jakimowicz

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