Between the Layers was an attempt to work freely without imposing any restrictions on materials or mediums.
Remember the TV show Art Attack where the host surrounded by art material demonstrates some clever craftwork using household items? Imagine the art room with all its colours, brown paper, tape, ink exploding onto the canvas.
An exhibition of a roomful of such canvases would then constitute ‘Between the layers’ by Neha Utmani and P.L. Jose that was recently on display at Jaaga, though the effect is not adverse. On the contrary, they have created a dynamic world where colours, lines, drawings, and figures, mostly animated animal motifs are allowed the space to move around freely.
Neha and Jose have used over 20 different media including oil, acrylic, distemper, brown tape, transparent tape and silicon gel, photo colours, oil, acrylic, charcoal, water colours, masking tape, glass paints, glass marking pencils, permanent markers, India inks, various types of threads, rubber bands, metal, plywood, spray paints, bamboo reeds and OHP sheets to create various textures. They have created paintings, drawing and basically, artworks ranging from small cardboard cut outs, bamboo or string figures to floor length pieces hanging from the ceiling.
“The surface for most of our works is traditional brown paper and artists’ drawing papers, both of which are available in rolls that we could cut out in custom sizes. We have painted using ink droppers filled with photo colours and glass colours, to paint thick outlines of the various creatures that you see in our works. We have used bamboo reeds to sculpt shapes of fishes, which were later covered with wool threads to get a three dimensional effect,” say Neha and Jose. “The starting point for most of our initial works emerged from the works created earlier by each of us, and the ideas and techniques for later works emerged through serendipitous discoveries, and from the lessons learned along the way. Our works can be slotted as ‘painting and drawing’, though when we hang our works from the ceiling extending to the floor in lengths of 10 feet, we believe that it becomes sculptural.” What’s important to remember is that Neha and Jose have co-created the artworks, each working simultaneously on the surfaces in their own styles.
Neha, they explain, is interested in the idea of layering using various mediums like distemper, tape, and silicon gel to create a tactile quality, while Jose is interested in drawing, caricature, both of animals and human figures that lend the surface its fantasy-world quality.
“Our motto at present is to question ‘ourselves’ as individuals and artistes and to work freely without imposing any restrictions as to materials or mediums, and we want to work towards creating artwork that celebrates ‘the artist’ in each of us,” they point out. “We used various mediums and materials primarily out of curiosity to know how the materials would respond to and look on the surface, and also how we as artists would respond to each other while working simultaneously.”