Art depicting the plight of farmers

Angst Highlighted: The artist has delineated the lives and milieu of farmers in the country through her paintings and murals

Reaper’s Melody’ an exhibition of Shambhavi Singh’s new paintings, paper pulp works and sculptural installations, revolves around the life and work of the displaced farmer in an ever-shifting modern landscape.

From her personal experience of her homeland in rural India, the artist reflects on the farmer’s role as nurturer and provider on one hand, while negotiating the division and exploitation of land that threatens to dissolve its very existence. The tactile, hand-worked quality of the works on view evoke such emblems of agricultural life as tilled and cultivated land, and deep, burrowing wells–the rudimentary markings of the farmer’s toiling, yet harmonious, elemental co-existence with the earth.

In a series of canvases in rich earth tones–Meyrd–the meandering paths cutting across freshly plowed earth are simple, yet potent symbols of a farmer’s journey. The intense dark shades intermixed with patches of light in tumultuous brush strokes, lure the movement and flow of the farmer’s work, and that of nature. Rustic implements, reminiscent of irrigation systems, and the Kuan series, illuminate the necessity of these simple components, while bringing to surface the darkness permeating the emptiness of
these vessels.

Shambhavi brings into relief the widening chasm that disconnects one from the earth, and from their known roots. Evolving a unique vocabulary throughout her practice to encompass subtle form, intense colour and the play of light within darkness, her works quietly articulate her concerns in narrative layers culled from abstraction and memory. Through enveloping darkness, she reveals the presence of something essential embedded in seeming absence: constellations scattered across the night sky, flickers of light on water–-the forms that emerge in shadow, forms lost to us in the glare of contemporary life. 

Born in Bihar, Singh’s art has been inspired by the farm culture the state. Her works have been exhibited in India, New York, Australia, South Africa, Singapore and the Netherlands, and are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, among other institutions and private collections worldwide. Her work is on display at Talwar Gallery, Neeti Bagh, till January 3, 2015.

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