EXHIBITION German artist Ruth Bisping's paintings draw heavily from beaches and scenes in the country

Ruth Bisping finds inspiration in the sparkling sand (which is, incidentally, where she lives) of Akkarai's silent beaches. So much that most of the art in her recent exhibition at The Indigo and Labernum Galleries (Cholamandal Artists' Village) is blue, with frothy white waves on wet shores to complement the influence on her art.

Influencing art

An artist from Germany, Ruth moved to Chennai a year ago because “living in India was a dream I've had for a long time”. Though far away from the city's bustling scene, she is excited by the colours that flash across her eyes. “This country is very colourful, which is good for artists,” she smiles. “This has been a radical change for me and has influenced my art in many ways. The paintings are spontaneous application on canvas, but you will be inspired by so many bright colours. It's very different from Europe.”

Her exhibition ‘From Strangeness To Familiarity' is a mélange of brush strokes, dabs and sweeping shades of change. The abstracts look at this coastal city in a maze of colours — from bright turmeric to a churning monsoon grey. There are also sketches of women in saris and men in their traditional garb, wily lines tracing these silhouettes into clear south Indian characters.

“People who come here ask me why my show is titled so. Actually, I don't like to give a title to the paintings because it makes you look at art with a certain agenda, to understand what you think the artist wants to you. When you do that, you stop thinking freely, and form opinions about it,” explains Ruth. “These paintings are for everyone to relate to. Even for those who have lived here all their lives, just looking at them would mean something.”

The title piece is predominantly white, grey and black with sweeps of blue and dabs of lemon yellow and red. On another, it looks as though both bold colours merge into a sort of ‘understanding' white, where the strangeness of the other shades fade into a milky white familiarity. True to this style, the rest too have two or three bold colours blending into each other.

The perpendicular painting of dark blue, brown and crevices of black resembles the city the most, where dark, rumbling waves crash onto a terracotta shore with little blocks for homes. The other side, which Ruth isn't familiar with, is cloaked in black.

Contrasting shades

“I think a painting shouldn't have too many colours. There will be about three or four, and one of them, dominant,” she says. As if to move away from all the blues of her paintings is a sunny yellow where the form of a girl in a wispy, white dress and fluttering raven hair, reclines back with a dancer's grace. “This Indian yellow is so intense and beautiful that I had to use it. When you mix it with black, it forms a kind of mossy green, and that is also very nice. I have showed some contrast and blend in that painting,” she says.

Ruth will be here for another year, attending art shows and meet-ups all over the country, while trying to explore its myriad colours by herself. “I've come here to be inspired. It has been a deep experience so far, and I think, even with all the challenges I've faced with moving to a different country, coming here was a good decision,” she smiles.

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012