Lines, since childhood, have been equated with two-dimensionality. It’s possibly the first thing we learn to draw as children. There is a sense of nostalgia and a remembrance of the very many concepts that spring up from the mention of lines. Straight lines, waves, tangents, curves, parallel lines and then, those who are artists and art aficionados, they ponder on the three-dimensional illusion created from the linearity of the same. This is what Exploring Lines has rendered through deeply soulful and contemplative visual means.
Artist Gitanjali Kashyap’s artworks are largely in charcoal and soft-pastel which exude rhythm. In the seemingly repetitive rhythms, there is a sense of variation. She experiments extensively in monochrome and all her artworks have a softness in the rigid, almost perfect composition. What really struck me to be a conscious choice was her use of monochrome over color. It enabled me to engage with the artworks without any preconceived connotations that colors are culturally associated with. Almost with a Spartan finesse, her artworks bring you to face meaning without the colors and the distractions that come along with them. She says, “I see rhythm everywhere, the way the door of the gallery swings open and even the floor on which we stand has rhythm. My inspiration comes from various rhythms that I feel around me and from spiritual texts. This is why there is an immersive and contemplative feel to my artworks. My aim is to make the viewer look at my paintings and go inwards into introspection with a feeling of calmness.”
Likewise, artist Neeraja Divate too works primarily in monochrome, with a dash of color interspersed very sparingly. Upon closer inspection, I notice that her artwork wholly comprises short terse lines that make up the bigger composition. Her paintings are macroscopic, visual renditions of emotions that she feels within her at various walks of life. The intricacy of the detailing is quite incredible and I can feel the patience and the effort that goes into channeling lines in certain directions on either a white or black paper surface. Some paintings have bold thick lines that seem to stand out; she explains, “Whenever I feel strongly emotional, a strong line is created while I am working on a painting. Any strong lines, whether they are black or white, they are the manifestations of strong emotions welling up inside me.” Neeraja’s paintings have a curious tensile quality to their labyrinthine arrangements that cannot quite be translated to words. One can only feel her artworks.
The artworks of artist Ritu Mehra are the only ones that have color to them, but then again, her palette is subtle and minimalist. She uses colors that seem translucent and washed out which create an ambiance of peace and nostalgia. Perhaps, for me, she is the most versatile out of them. Ritu uses paper, silkscreen, canvas and a variety of pens and acrylics to create her artworks. Formerly an engineer, Ritu uses her mathematical precision and rigidity in her artworks in order to create a curious amalgamation of harmony and conflict. Her surreal compositions are equally intriguing and sometimes lead to arcane interpretations. She uses graph paper grids, the figures of cuboids and juxtaposes them with softly painted objects and pets that are equated with early childhood days when one was growing out of toys and learning the very first concepts of mathematics.
The arrangement of the paintings is a thoughtful one. Ritu’s minimalist works are hung on the center wall, flanked by the monochromatic works of Gitanjali and Neeraja, creating a clean symmetry that allows the viewer to alternate from monochrome to subtle colors and again back to monochrome. The three artists have their own distinct inspirations and techniques of creating art, and yet there is a common undercurrent to all their artworks that is made evident through the evocation of calmness and introspection. The exhibition offers, through the use of lines, many nuanced interpretations on nostalgia, emotions, and life as a whole. It is certainly a show that cannot be missed.
Show catalogue text: Uma Nair (Art Critic and Curator).