Art reviews....

The coming together of Luigi

An installation by Prabhavathi Meppayil

Anastasio and Prabhavathi Meppayil in the Galleryske exhibition “everything/nothing” (October 5 to November 24) may seem strange at first, to nevertheless soon reveal gradually evident or declared links and reverse-complementary reflections that come from both artists’ foundation in certain rudimentary aspects of Indian culture and their reconciling of the physicality of the real with its subtle echoes, mediational focus and minimalist direction, while references to architectural space, wall surface and fresco painting find a fine visualisation in the way the gallery rooms are used to enhance qualities intrinsic to the form and content of the works.

Meppayil’s work has evolved exquisitely. The larger gesso panels nuance the sensuous tactility of traditional southern painting ground towards an abstracted intuition of both the fresco wall and the spatial wrap of architecture, its immediacy merging closeness and expansiveness. Her drawing with rows and tiny emergences of stretched and partly embedded, copper wires indeed is a minimal gesture that contains it all, conjuring a sense of contemplation in the midst of constant labour whose rhythm picks up the sound, even music of living during a gently compressed relationship with air, light, colour and white colourlessness as well as hardly noticeable but vital shadows.

In the two amazing installations, this process loosens up and intensifies to reveal a vast scale that perhaps underlies everything along with the bases of aesthetic form mutually interacting. One with gesso panels placed in a diagonal dynamism on and slightly away from the wall hints at the plasticity potential of flatness, while probing the delicate interdependency of blocks and surfaces, shiny metal hues and drawing-like lines, also properties the surrounding illumination and tenuous cast shadows. The other relying on a finely varied horizontal-vertical grid blends small, hard yet use-softened volumes of jewellery dies with the airy, pulsating painterliness of its impact when involving the even wall.

Ever oscillating between and reconciling the object substance and its immaterial effect and associations, craftsmanship and contemporary art, intuition and awareness, the images offer a rarely immersive, almost self-dissolving experience whose sheer sensation slowly points towards and opens up thoughts, their trajectories always remaining ingrained in physical recognitions. The titular everything and nothing which can be felt throughout Meppayil’s images, although derived from the general caption for Anastasio’s works, let one recognise the former in his case, whereas the latter has to be believed on his explanation.

Deeper at the gallery one comes face to face with two large pieces carefully and spectacularly collaged of smallish individual paintings on cardboard. Their muted brightness and abraded, palpable pigment textures seem to simultaneously evoke Renaissance frescos, as also stated through the reproduction of a self-portrait of Lorenzo Lotto, and archaic, religious Indian motifs somewhere on the border of symbolism, organic grounding, the artist’s private gesture and abstraction, cosmic and microscopic views, ancient lore and the current day, bottle caps transforming into aesthetic foci, while an occasional paint squeeze translates spiritual signage into artistic marking.

     The assemblages, one alluding to the square of comparative stability and another drawing the eye into its circular motion, let one think of kaleidoscopic, shifting multitudes of the visible and its fluid potentiality that persists on the verge of clarity and uncertainty. Whilst they play well with the walls, the viewer believes the artist that they are mirrors of the mind. It may be more difficult to read from them the intended Buddhist shunyata along with the equivalence of form and emptiness. Although the technical handling of the work is excellent, one cannot escape the impression of having seen similar forms before.

Attuned experiencing

Yet another event at Bar1 (October 27 to November 3) brought temporary installations by a budding artist of a contemporary sensitivity. “Time Passed” by Anil Chandran P, a recent alumnus of KAVA in Mysore, may have been somewhat hard to understand on one’s own in its references. Nonetheless, this character precisely could be forgiven, since for a young adept the focus on authentically received personal experiences is necessary to build a firm foundation, even if the accessibility of its intended meaning is ignored for the time being. His wall pieces revolved round recollections of moments in the childhood village and chance drawings caused by bus jerks, their form proving quite effective. If the image of passer-by words sticking to him appeared naïve, the mediation on drawing with the passage of hours created a pervasive atmosphere. The best was the interactive work that explored the varying moods of friends video-documented while handling bending wires, its projection mingling with a heap of black wires.

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