Art reviews..

Subtle cultural merger

Having already seen Yuriko Lochan’s work twice in Bangalore at Time & Space, this time as well (September 14 to 22) one could recognise not only her style and strands of preoccupation but also the characteristic blend of constancy in pursuing the main theme while embracing related areas with simultaneous and equally persistent slight, nuanced variations.

The method indeed responds to the painter’s personal circumstances on par with her way of absorbing the art of where she comes from and where she lives.

Lochan, a mid-career painter from Delhi was born and educated in Japan, married an Indian fellow artist Rajeev Lochan to ever since intimately, though not literally, identify her contemporary experience with the aesthetic, organic and emblematic essence of the classical tradition in both countries.

The recent paintings reveal this all the clearer that the artist has restrained her motifs further to a singular focus on the lotus in order to handle it with maximal subtlety. Connecting archaic India and Buddhist Japan, the lotus is understood here through the basic associations of beauty and purity achieved despite its soiled sources along with the more important symbolism of the recurring life cycle amid its interlinked spaces.

Lochan fortunately desists from its literal representation instead relying on the sensation the viewer gets when closely watching the rhythmic recurrence of the plant through a diversity of its evolutionary stages from seed to bud and flower to seed again, through a gamut of its natural parts and surroundings.

The sense of constant growth, decay and renewal becomes enhanced by the frequent indication of segments in a sequence which alludes to Japanese painted screens, whilst the delicate sensuousness of the blossoms and foliage lets one intuit an individual human presence, perhaps the artist’s own, among traces of the many.

Lochan does not quote the Japanese canon nor its Indian equivalents, rather suggesting her approaching both thanks to the manner in which she oscillates between traces of realistic representation and its stylised, vital core, between the minimalist qualities of the fist formal source and the exuberance of the latter.

If water patterns from Classical India come up here and there, her having been early on mentored by A Ramachandran is still evident as a muted but apparently consciously retained stratum, which by itself conjures a background of reciprocal bonding owing to the older artist’s reinterpreted affiliation to Santiniketan with its regard for and blending of the local and Far Eastern traditions and spirit.

Such accommodating permeability of things densely yet finely layered on becomes reverberated in certain key properties of Lochan’s aesthetic language, especially in the pervasive simultaneity of lucid, sharply defined silhouettes and elusive, abstractly textured backgrounds, of linearity and soft-lied colours, of graded opacity and translucence, of clearly stated shapes and their partial undermining through white-negative contours, of cool, ornamental traits and a gently carnal impact, of hues held firm within outlines and loose, flowing out ones during the interaction of gouache and water colours.

The onlooker certainly appreciates the painter’s technical finesse and sincerity combined with a lack of pretence which includes respecting her classical choice as well as her need for elements of design. On the other hand however, her refusal to situate herself more firmly in the reality of today can be a drawback which prevents the viewer’s deeper response to the so primarily aesthetising idiom that does not always resist the temptation of the decoratively pleasant.

Crumbling patterns

C S Krishna Setty has had a long career in multiple disciplines from painting to writing on art, TV films and teaching to participation in institutions, the latest being chairmanship of the Karnataka Lalithakala Academy.

Although he went through a number of rather different phases as an artist including a surreal one, for several years by now his canvases are with slight differences based in a highly textured abstraction, bright hues and design-oriented composition.

The recently concluded exhibition at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath (September 14 to 21) very much belonged to that strand. It still revolved round separated or broken up clusters of texturally marked, amorphous shapes suggestive of mass and volume suspended in slow dynamism over empty, flat surfaces and divided planes.

Often simultaneously moving away from one another and remaining mutually attracted, they seemed to hint at an uncertain condition of things approached close on as well as over expanses and recesses, sporadically pointing towards an uneasy community against a murky landscape or towards a chaotic assembly of shards from archaic pottery. Without the artist’s own comment one wonders whether to read in it an allusion to a broader state of the world or the locale.

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