Art review

Contemporary proximities

Quietly and honestly, also avoiding facile if saleable pleasantness, Gallery Blue Spade has been evolving into a good space for, not cutting-edge perhaps and limited to more comfortable two-dimensional media, but solid-level contemporary art that, on the one hand, acknowledges local, in particular younger, individualities and, on the other, tries to bring a variety of oeuvres from elsewhere in the country.

Rajan Krishnan, Woods, acrylic on canvas

The current exhibition, “Lateral Insertions” (December 17 to January 20), reflects its second strand, while the title considered after viewing the display suggests a somewhat random meeting of diverse preoccupations and styles which are put on par, although unequal in quality as those comprise some works of significance and strong impact, some interesting and consummately done as well as some vague, posed or decorative. So, the loosely assembled contributions from nineteen artists, on closer acquaintance, begin to connect on certain lines.

At one extreme, ones can find the element of abstraction reigned in to capture essential impressions. It dominates the paintings of Sheetal Ghattani whose minimalist restraint in the treatment of thin yet nuanced and palpable surface simultaneously yields subtlety and rawness, distance and immediacy distilled from the actual. In Uday Mondal’s canvases a high degree of abstracting in a slightly old-fashioned still present-day manner imbues figural scenes with a luminous but rough carnal sensitivity. Drastically attuned to the blood-anchoring of the emotive body, Vasudha Thozhur’s ominous-tender triptych on our mortality enhances and disturbs the former balance.

A different essentialist stand, taken from afar and generalised to speak about direct reality, comes from Rajan Krishnan and his wounded “Woods” as tree portraits transposed into dry, convoluted, thorny volumes. Sanjeev Sonpimpare looks somewhat like that at the urban-rural crowds drawn into an incongruous neon web of togetherness permeated by the artifice of the city. Another group of artists in different proportions bases on realistic rendering and more or less complex metaphors to address the social, environmental and moral predicament. These properties are clearest and intense in Suneel Mamadapur’s vast canvas that with a sad irony conjures a stage for the doomed human life journey.

Truncation and hybrids recur also with considerable effects in the paintings by Sachin Karne, Sudhanshu Sutar and Arunanshu Chowdhury but in mediated with the help of non-representative yet mood-inducing areas of brushstrokes and fluid translucency or murky bleeds. Aspirations, idealism and serenity are contrasted and precariously blended there with follies, desires and failure. Similar aims and aesthetic languages stumble on over-statement, obviousness or formalism without sufficient skills in the works by Ashutosh Bharatwaj, Debraj Goswami, Sajal Sarkar, Rahul Mukherjee and Heeral Trivedi. An accent on design characterises some artists, for M Pravat resulting in an apparently cool architectural plan frame that nevertheless reveals distress at the root of existence.

In Shruti Nelson’s images with people and traffic it focuses on our tentative unity with the graceful motion of animals endowing the softened relief with feminine sensibilities. The decorative tendency may wish for lyrical atmosphere, like in Poushali Das’s sky landscapes with traditional ornamentation inspired by Nilima Sheikh. Dilip Sharma, with playful facility, but with a rather formalistic outcome, paints the beautiful young through the filter of fashion’s filigree, flat brightness. By comparison, Babu Xavier’s water colour resembling acrylics of frolicking humans and beasts have a fairly dated, unresolved lightness.

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