Two women artists showcase their works, capturing two radically different worlds

The two exhibitions happening at Apparao Galleries are works in contrast, represented by Kanchan Chander and Melisa Enderle. The former is Delhi based and latter is from Chennai.

Interestingly both are women artists but the world they have chosen to define is radically different. While Kanchan articulates her ideas through engagement with fragmented human forms in terms of torsos, half bodies, headless ones etc., Melinda's water colours and colour pencil sketches reflect a lived reality of ordinary people, going about their daily chores. Her show is titled “Me and My Neighbours”. Kanchan exhibition is titled “Migrating Memories” dealing with subject of art historical past as torsos, goddesses, alas kanyas from medieval temple walls, or classical Greek sculpture as Winged Victory.

Melisa's engagement with the realistic visual language is to express her sensitive feel for drawing that structures her composition. Her themes, foregrounding common subject, is not only realistic, but the content of her works is rooted in people whom she interacts or has encountered in daily life. The medium is either water colours, pastels or colour pencils. A return to the real within contemporary art milieu does not negate her working methodology in this mode as traditional or historical and hence unsuitable for the present. What needs to be admired is her intimate engagement with the human body per se imparting a quality of endearing warmth and domesticity, which is generic reminiscent of 17th century Little Dutch Masters who reveled in the representation of the common in every day life. Her works have a warm sensuality and a sense of intimacy that gives it an enduring character.

The simplicity of her subject is almost spiritual. They are rendered in water colours with verisimilitude though there is a hint of romanticizing them. Melisa in her subject is drawn to old people as their visages offer her an opportunity to delineate the wrinkles and furrows of age. Yet these portraits are not clinically rendered, rather she has infused them with insightful characterization of their wisdom of experiences in life, as it shines forth from their eyes, which conveys pathos, sentiments, bewilderment and other emotions articulated with studied precision and warm understanding.

Her technique is labour intensive, as she diligently layers her works especially in water colours to obtain that melting translucency. A close scrutiny reveals layers and layers of tonal subtleties that also give depths to her shadows and soft luminosity to her light. The quality of tactility is high in her works and that is premised on her mastery in handling the medium as well the colours. Melisa's works are purely enchanting in the representation of the material world as the jali balcony with the intricacy of fretted stone, the somber grey textures of the temple walls, the kaleidoscopic colours in the embroidered quilt or the rangoli on the floor. Her works beckon by the magic of the sheer simplicity of her subject.

Kanchan's works are premised on nostalgia and memory incorporating the element of time and space. Yet, moving beyond that her works bear a strong affinity to design and fashion, since she has engaged with zari embroidery, beads, swaroski crystals and other decorative paraphernalia intimately associated with the fashion and design world in her works as surface ornamentation. The female body in its fragment as torso or headless form is a generic translation and does not index class or caste. By enveloping it in the aura of classical history she freely plays with the forms placing them against textile designed motif background or creating the floral design within the form itself, which is hand rendered by her. In these works of Kanchan, the intensive physical laborious process is cathartic providing an opportunity to be meditative as she translates her creativity and images materially. Her reference to the feminine world is also reflected in the use of foils of tablets evidenced in certain works gesturing to their medical health. At first glance her works defeat her aim as they appear over decorative, but a close scrutiny reveals her articulation through memory bringing alive those past moments which she has lived through a different process of articulation. And it is not surprising to find the ubiquitous Indian art motifs as elephants, bulls, geometric and floral designs playing their decorative role yet held in tension through compositional arrangement. The works appear iconic as they are dominated by single figures with textured muted decorative backgrounds.

Kanchan's works exude happy optimism like her persona and the viewer is magically drawn to her composition by the vibrancy of colours, tactile textures and endearing motifs of elephants and other animals judiciously serving as footnotes.

The exhibition is on at Apparao Galleries until 28th November.