Madhvi Reddi’s paintings, Speak, Memory are composed of conceptual illustrations, like visual journal entries, that tell a story within a frame
It’s a day in the life of Madhvi Reddi, and she describes her day through a series of paintings on display in the exhibition of works, “Speak, Memory” on display at Gallery 545.
The day begins at sunrise, “Between Here and Now”. Three gray figures rise out of the cityscape, pointing to the yellow sun. A figure lies in a white space, caught in her own bubble within the world.
And then its time for the morning rituals, a rite of passage of sorts into the day as she represents in paintings such as “Morning Confessional”, “Monday Morning Mind Games”, “Dearly Departed” and “Flower. And the garden and the sky”.
The “Monday Morning Mind Games”, for instance, showcases a crossword, with the elements of a snake and ladder game which she depicts through a ladder on the side and a snake within the crossword. There is also a bird, within the crossword, which she identifies as a motif that represents protection.
Her day at work then is occupied by her ruminations on love and relationships, which she represents, through the card game of peg-solitaire in “Solus” and “Solus Deconstructed”. (“Pick one. Look at another. Jump. Replace the one you’re holding.” reads a piece of text within “Solus Deconstructed”)
The overarching theme in her works is that of love and relationships, which Madhvi says is only a reflection of the life stage she is in currently. And the following series of paintings are all her thoughts on what it means to have a lover or to be in a relationship, to allow romance into one’s life or the impressions that one carries from all the past relationships.
“The paintings are a series of autobiographical narratives, where I have used figurative elements to illustrate a story in a frame. This is a style in which, for example, if I’m looking at a tree as my subject, I depict what it reminds me of or what it makes me feel. So my process is cerebral, not intellectual and it’s what comes naturally to me.”
Text as a graphic element is a significant part of her painting, as she shows in “Decade Notarized”, “Mea Culpa” and in “Expense Account”.
“Decade Notarized” is a large acrylic on canvas on which she plays out the “He loves me, He loves me not” situation on a painted “notebook” with all its many crossings out and corrections.
“Mea Culpa” is a haiku, “Friday Night, Legs crossed against Monday morning regrets”, painted in a rather faded cross-stitch pattern that speaks about a sex-related dilemma. “I can never separate words and visuals, they have always been together for me. There is a visual intensity in the scrawling of words. We read words and text together almost everywhere whether in graphic novels or in newspaper. So why separate the two in fine art?”
While the format of a painted, visual journal entry, that carries the qualities of a conceptual illustration is effortless in engaging the viewer directly with the paintings, in a “straightforward, no-nonsense” way.
“On the face of it, it might be seen as intimate, but it’s universal. By intimate, I mean pertaining to the self, rather than the larger environment. I would not have used this format if I was painting something, say, political,” explains Madhvi. “I believe in being honest with what one is trying to do and say. It’s indicative of an introspective quality. The whole point of painting is to try to convey a sincere truth.”
“Speak, Memory” will be on view until July 31 at gallery Five Forty Five, 545, 6th Main, 4th Cross, Indira Nagar Stage II. For details, contact 9886117375.