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Walk Along the Line- Drawings/ Paintings. A Group show by Geetanjali Kashyap, Neeraja Divate and Ritu Mehra

When three women artists decide to explore the many moods of abstraction just by the lines they carry, it can actually cast the viewer as an interloper whose aesthetic instincts have but gently stirred, while offering a thoughtful meditation on the nomadism of the present day contemporary artist.

At first sight, these works by three equally distinctive and wonderfully sensitive artists come across as an engrossed, neo-minimalist sojourn, hovering rather cleverly on the border between textural nuances and formless foundations rooted in the spirit of being. After all, any journey in abstraction is an exercise that virtually swims in the orbit of palettes – but when it brims on the qualities of imposing physical presence it mirrors experiential journeys.

Paper and charcoal provide a unique degree of responsiveness to Gitanjali and hence have been an ideal medium of expression in the artist’s works. The artist has a subtle symmetry generated by rhythmic movements in creations and this is what is interpreted in her drawings.
Ritu, an engineer turned artist considers the creative process as a means to meditate about transience. Her medium is all about mixed media on canvas and travels between nether worlds with consummate ease.

Artist Neeraja uses pencil on paper and acrylic on paper as her medium. For her, “Details create the Big Picture”. In her works any kind of expression is kept to a minimum, in order to give the work a completely literal presence and to allow the viewer an immediate, purely visual response.

Contemplative Connections

All three artists abide by the different connotations of tranquil conversations and contemplation when they create their works.
Gitanjali talks about her conception and states, “While conceiving my artwork, at the substratum lies a subconscious yet sure movement from the Gross to the Subtle. A certain arrangement and repetition of pattern and imagery is used to create rhythms that provide solace to the viewer, somewhat as different notes of sound do in Music.” For her, allusions of listening to symphonies in the genre of western music create a matrix of illusions. While it is the resonance caused by vibrations that are mirrored in her geometric articulations that give us a deeper sense of a movement towards infinity, even when she creates the thread like nocturnal strokes there is a clear indication of the auratic symbolism of vibrations that surround it.

Ritu melds the figurative along with evanescent colourfields. For her the creative process is an inner pathway to her own sanctum sanctorum, this is why she says: “When I create I think of my connection with my ‘self’. The perception of ‘self’ as part of nature, environment, society, cosmos, creation etc. However, essentially it is not a conscious attempt to think of the connection but a spontaneous happening that creates the vision of the human form amidst that large perspective of the cosmos.”

Neeraja whose works looks more like tensile tendrils explains: “It’s the present stream of thoughts and emotions that connect me to my work. I am attracted to tiniest part of any object and love to enlarge and see various details, layers, which I try to depict on paper from my point of view.”

Textural Terrain
For all 3 artists texture is more than technique, it is more than an ambiguous superficial haze, it is the abacus on which their works have an impressionist yet deeply rhythmic reflection that draws us into its maw and its very being. In a world where many artists think abstraction is only about colour and intensity of line, these 3 artists present deep dialogues into the dictats of abstraction’s inner realms. This is why texture is indeed vital and deeply fundamental to their act of creation. The process of their abstracted pilgrimage is built on the very foundation of how they handle texture on the different mediums that they explore.

Look closely and you will see that texture is not an imaginary rendition-nor is it a utopian island, but it is a realm that is located within and without the visible territory, that floats in the subconscious existential realms of these gifted artists who are already into postulates of multiple manifestations of the mind.
Gitanjali expresses her textural domains succinctly: “As an artist, I’m quite aware of the potentialities of visual texture and it is usually a very significant element of the artwork. I attempt to play with texture in such a way that it becomes more than just an aesthetic and sometimes, even challenges the viewer’s perception of the real and illusory.”

Ritu the scientific tempered engineer considers: “Texture has a major role to play in my artworks. I create a textured surface often with lines and marks, working on various layers that symbolize the infinite casual connections that make up the microcosm of life. Texture adds a subtle dimension to my works. My artwork is experimental and I try to create unique textures through experiment with various mediums, textures for me are the pastures of my own fantasy.”

Neeraja whose works have both an elusive and evocative poignancy elucidates: “Texture reveals the personality and individual technicality of the artist. The impression on the paper with small strokes is important for me as it imparts dimension and supports my concept. It also expresses my aesthetic experience.”

It is clear that all 3 artists want to react to how neutral the spaces of exhibition can be, but there is deep sophistication in their idea of the divisibility of spaces in works that creates a postmodern model. Interestingly, all 3 unconsciously play with the notion of conditional settings for spaces of art and to address the viewer’s physical senses, extending on the notion of sentiment that swims in inner voices of the soul. Through their abstraction they want to deal with more immediate dimensions of the accessible. In doing so, they create an uncanny but deeply contemplative setting where the somewhat fragile and vulnerable idea of the community of absence can be felt in the presence of what is seen.

Monochromes and Minimalism
This show is a testimony to modern minimalism and monochromatic moods, it tells us to step out of our accustomed sloth and look again at the beauty of life we have too often ignored. It is also true that these 3 artists bring a soft sensibility or simply their understanding of minimalism in a different visual culture. It also reveals the possibilities of the ‘undominated, less crowded part’ of everyday life. There is an autonomous quality in separating life’s smaller moments out from the vast world of excesses. We are looking at an artist’s engagement with everyday life itself and more drawn by something mundanely mysterious in the works itself. To shift the attention of the viewer from the merely ‘interesting’ to the more rigorous ‘mysterious’ requires another qualitative element to be constantly present.

In all these three artists’ works, that quality is accuracy – the careful choice and precise creation of image, site, texture, form and action. To seek to be accurate is to avoid taking things at first sight but caring enough to want to know more in order to be exact. The ‘caring’ is inherent, stemming as the word does from ‘curare’ in Latin. It also suggests the need to take time to achieve precision as well as the desire to be right.
Artist Gitanjali speaks about her love for monochromatic tenors “I believe that colors let us off lightly- black and white forces us to think. An artist is nothing if not a thinker. Hence, monochrome becomes an apt idiom for my works wherein the eye is led into a black n white labyrinth to experience Reality from inside out. My Monochrome mentality could also be a desire to replace frivolousness with intensity and sensual pleasure with intellectual design. Plus, monochrome helps to heighten the illusions in my work and deliver the apt visual sensation.”

For Ritu, who combines subtle contrasts to give us minimalist materiality says: “My works are not specifically monochromatic. However I use minimalistic colors to play with tones of colors I choose to work with rather than working with many colors. On a subtle level my works give an effect of monochrome. I think monochrome adds sophistication in artwork.”

Neeraja revels in the reverberations of monochromatic murmurs and states: “Same color tones force me to think about the structure of composition, as it needs to be well planned. Having a vision and executing it is quiet difficult, when we see everything in color.”

For all three artists, we have a series of works that convey expressionist impressions that quickly unravel. As soon as you realize that the works consist of these moods, the minimalist reading takes on a more provocative character.

This show heralds abstraction as a particular form of work that needs more discipline and accuracy as it develops. The orchestration of compositions suggests that abstraction is not the ordinariness of the images, often unremarkable urban design scenes. It is not that easy to do this, until you realize that the task is more demanding than it seems. The sheer quality of images, and the auratic impulse of the individual components, requires a kind of focused, osmotic discipline where the rationality of the subject in question affects the artist’s consciousness. Relaxing, in a focused state of transitional reverie, the term accuracy, the quality that distinguishes this collection from any other, an accuracy that reflects the experience, the inner awakenings and the silent solitude of being in specific islands of contemplation defines the substance of an abstractionist’s journey. In that episode this series is a delight to the mind and acts as a silent river that flows in the city. Indeed abstraction is about mysterious motivations-then all you need is to take a line for a walk and an alchemy unfolds.

UMA NAIR
ART CRITIC
SEPTEMBER 2017

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