Nine artists lend a contemporary touch to the navarasas in the exhibition Rasa

One often gets to see the navarasas play out in the realm of the performing arts, but it is not very often that they are so strongly brought out in visual art, through paintings or sculptural pieces. And Lina Vincent Sunish has worked with just this theme in her latest curatorial venture, Rasa on view at the Mahua Art Gallery.

The exhibition features nine artists, each exploring and expressing the individual rasas through their works. Bangalore-based artists Naveen Kumar, for instance explores the Shringar rasa (love) through his paintings shaped like hand-held mirrors embedded with little stars and moons. The central motif, painted over the mirror features a woman in long, flowing robes. The woman is placed in different contexts connected to local themes, as Rocket Rani, Chandra kali, or Auto Rani.

“The paintings are in handheld-mirror shape because we see ourselves through the mirror image and also our self through the perception of others. In the portion that is usually occupied by the mirror, I have painted fairy tale images that have been inspired by the love stories of four of my friends,” writes Naveen in his statement.

Praveen Goud, in his series of sculptural objects (titled Man With Pipe) combines LED lights and m-seal (with ready-made materials) to create an almost nonsensical personality in his expression of the haasya rasa (laughter).

While in his series of digital prints Portraits he humanizes electronic chips, circuits with the switchboards as a commentary on the growing insensitivity of the human race, who are, as he puts it, becoming devoid of emotion.

The rasa that have expressed themselves more strongly in this exhibition, according to Lina, are the adbhuta rasa (wonder or surprise) through Bhavani’s panel of 16 paintings depicting the tributaries of the Cauvery in the Kodagu landscape as well as Aishwaryan Kumar’s interpretation of the karunya rasa (compassion).

“Then there are Niranjan H.G.’s photographs of rock formations where he takes the colour yellow which corresponds to the deity of Veeryam (courage) to directly symbolise the rasa. I feel it came through because it shows strength and longevity,” adds Lina.

The exhibition features two folk artists, contemporary Madhubani artists Naresh Paswan and Amrita Jha.

“What was wonderful about the exhibition was to see different people respond to different emotions. The beauty of the navarasa is that any human will be able to respond to at least one of the emotions. The navarasas are perennial and universal and can be understood anywhere in the world because it is a human emotion.”

The idea behind the exhibition, despite the fact the theme has been playing on Lina’s mind for a while to bring out Indian aesthetics and identity but in the contemporary. The exhibition also features works by Kurma Nadham and Sanjay Manna.

Rasa will be on view at the Mahua Art Gallery, 344/8, 4th Main Road (Above Vijaya Bank) Sadashivnagar until October 4. For details, contact 23616971.