Inspiration works in mysterious ways. When, where and how it strikes is an unknown phenomenon. Bridging spontaneity and mindfulness springs raw narratives. In a group show by seventeen artists from around the country, a similar situation greets us with a heterogeneous blend of self-taught and experienced artists showcasing their thematic works respectively. Inaugurated by Padma Bhushan Prof. B.N. Goswamy, the exhibition offers a qualitative variety in painting, sculpture, photography and more.
Artist and sculptor S.C. Ahuja (Delhi), also the curator of the show, has bagged many awards through his artistic career of more than 35 years. This time, he pays homage to the plight of common man. In one bronze sculptural group, men of distinct body types and postures are seated together on fragile chairs dressed in the traditional Indian three- piece garb. The figures seem to be in deep contemplation reading from a handbook. The unidealised faces that seem to be an amalgamation of its different parts are concerned and dejected. The sculptor lays stress particularly on the expressions simplifying the rest of the body. The forlorn state is further heightened by the rough, unfinished and unrefined surface.
His art of modelling also finds home on the wall, stuck on a framed canvas. This time sculpting in terracotta, he clusters these faces together in an undefined rhythm. The very primitiveness of these faces against a blank background births a confrontation. The gaunt faces with copious incised lines have the signature sculpting style of the artist.
Indu Prakash (Delhi) after exhibiting around the globe believes in the need of variation in colour, technique and form to be in coherence with indigenous sensibilities. He diligently manipulates his palette tendering to the distinct ethnicities. Exhibiting in India, he floods his canvas with a plethora of yellows and occasional use of other primary & secondary tones. The artist aims to depict the chaos and commotion in the world vehemently through his complex patterning of geometrical forms. These fauvist colours in their abundance almost overwhelm the viewer with their sheer flatness and intensity. The strongly contoured closed off spaces are non- representational and austerely expressive.
Kaninika Dey Sarkar (Noida) on the other hand has been teaching architecture for a while and has only been introduced to the canvas recently. Her erudition in architecture forms her pictorial language. She has been working on and exhibiting series based on particular and distinctive urban & rural landscapes. Her Kolkata series, for instance, places a hand-pulled rickshaw in the foreground with traditional windows as the backdrop, only found in Old Kolkata now. Her paintings are devoid of human existence, evocative of a surreal conversation with the surroundings. Moreover, the uninhabited vehicle is the only element in colour in the entire composition further heightening the governance of tangible and lifeless objects around that hoard untold narratives.
The diptych canvas art piece of Rohit Bahuguna (Dehradun) reminded me of Gustav Courbet’s ‘The Artist’s Studio’ with the artist in the centre and the artistic paraphernalia surrounding him. But here, flanking the artist and his canvas are not his artistic endeavours but a bizarre composition of animals and unearthly creatures. On the left, an octopus holds on to a lantern precariously perching on a bathtub sporting a Christian cross. On the right, the artist’s brushes paint a lassitude human creature with an emaciated expression. He settles right at the altar of a strong contrast between a fashionably clothed man and a winged & horned being. The artist himself has grotesque and beastly feet with the rest of the limbs stitched together while his head, turned away from us is as normal as humanly possible.
The artwork is a crowd of too many elements served together. Certain facets like a football, a skeleton face and a full moon, all rendered in pen are brilliantly detailed against a backdrop of solemnity. It seems to be a layering of broken, coloured stripes under monochromatic figures, in all, engulfed by a fiery border. The fantastical flavour of his works is transcendental and is characterised by an otherworldly charm.
Other notable works in the exhibition are Bheem Malhotra’s (Chandigarh) & Bhupinder Dhutti’s (Delhi) mesmerising landscapes in water colour along with M.K. Puri’s lyrical paintings.