Of whites, spaces and in-betweens

Of whites, spaces and in-betweens

Painting exhibition

While most of us look at designs from the point of view of colours, how often do we pay attention to the minimalistic idea of looking at things? How often do we only look at the imperfections and accept them as a valid part of not only art, but life? How often do we acknowledge their very existence? With these ideas, Wabi-Sabi: Solo exhibition of paintings by Tarini Ahuja plays with the notions of illusion in her works displayed at the Annexe Gallery, India International Centre recently.

Heavily influenced by Japanese form of abstract thought, ‘an intuitive worldview’ said to be founded by the Zen Buddhists, Wabi-Sabi literally translates to finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural and vicious cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s the mundane, simple and slow form that reveres authenticity.

The works from 2013 onwards provide a space for solace and reflection and an escape from the mundane. Ahuja effectively uses acrylic paints on canvas in the 32 paintings displayed. 

Her use of white contrasts, broad and thin strokes, with the use of shadows show deliberate visual trickery. Ahuja, who studied in Singapore, mentioned about her oriental influence being a reason for such a strong imagination and the ideas that stem from that branch of thought.

She tells Metrolife, “I started researching on white spaces which was lacking in my earlier paintings. So through that, I came across the idea of Ma and learnt about Wabi-Sabi. I felt like the little or the imperfect areas were actually what appealed to me the most. Wabi-Sabi means finding perfection in imperfection and looking at flaws to find something positive and wanted to make the best out of everything. So, I felt that it is a great way to look at life and even in all negatives, one tends to find the positive. I have been working on it ever since then.”

Ahuja’s first solo saw many appreciating her unconventional way of looking at things. She says, “They all are abstract and completely non-representational. I don’t have any figures. I focus a lot on the colour and composition. I also follow the Japanese setting called Ma which deals with white space or space in-between.”

Mentioning the essence of layers and the strokes, she adds, “For instance, the silence in-between notes of a song and a pause in-between the steps make the step more meaningful. Like that, I believe that you don’t have to have an overcrowded painting and the space in-between can add more to the painting than the subject itself. So, in my first few paintings, I worked with a lot of white spaces.”

Logically put in a series differentiated by the year of work, her style adapted to the Indian colours once she came back from Singapore. Explaining her transition from “clerical greys, sensitive blues and garden greens to dusty, earthy shades, chaotic hues and dramatic contrasts”, she brings white from the background into the foreground which emphasised the need of “colour in the background and white in the foreground”.

The 25-year-old sums up, “My works may be best understood as a feeling rather than an idea.”