Senior and up-and-coming artists capture life and Nature in different forms and moods through an interesting mix of works

The September show at Apparao Galleries, ‘Nature in Fountains of Life/ The Rain Room/ The Sand Storm’ features an interesting mix of works, including photographs, paintings, installations, and sculptures from an equally interesting mix of artists, both established and up-and-coming.

One of the most eye-catching series of works is by senior artist Rm. Palaniappan. An entire section of the gallery has been dedicated to his photographs, which depict the churning of the oceans as a metaphor for the difficult times we live in. The close ups of frothingwaves in an enigmatic dark sea are stunning, shots that at first glance could just as easily represent airborne views of jagged topographies or stormy skies. These subjects are, of course, closely linked to the artist’s other works dealing with flight trajectories and maps, which makes this series an inspired adjunct to his larger body of art.

The artists in the show explore Nature in a variety of ways. Some make socio-political statements, such as Sujata Shankar Kumar, whose black and white photographs of salt mines explore the importance of this humble mineral in India’s history. Potrarasan’s fascinating set of ceramics — roughly hewn circular plates imprinted with images of doves, elephants and insects on one hand and of scrolls, scripts, and names of nations on the other — provides a thought-provoking perspective on the way humanity has left its indelible mark on Nature over the course of time. Aneesh Kalode Rajan makes a similar but more deeply dystopian statement in his stark mixed media installation. Crumpled sheets of black carbon paper dangle from the ceiling, looming over tiny white squares depicting Nature on the walls, smothering birds, trees, fish and our very cells with black clouds of smoke and smog. Other works celebrate the beauty of Nature. B.O. Sailesh and Maya Burman explore the relationship between human beings, our bodies and our existence, and the fragrant, flowering nature that surrounds us. Burman, Priyanka Govil, S. Natraj and others choose to focus in particular on the beauty, the divinity and the sensuality of the lotus flower. Agathe Patil’s small, delicate abstracts hone in on the tree, Bhavna Sonawane’s on the restless beauty of fluttering dragonflies, while Shijo Jacob’s vast, boldly coloured, almost hyper-real canvases depict the waterways of Kerala.

The exhibition also features some singularly appealing mixed media sculptures. Dhasan’s whimsical works attempt to reverse time — he creates ‘tree stumps’ which are actually, on closer inspection, hundreds of slim books, papers and magazines cobbled together, their edges and bindings fusing together to create colourful ‘barks’ of red-yellow and blue-green. Abir Patwardhan’s copper works zoom in on Nature’s smallest creations, recreating pea pods or tiny seeds in fruit in delicate detail, while Maria Antony Raj’s prettily wrought copper/stainless steel works invest anthills and grasshoppers with a surprising degree of charm. R. Janarthanan’s hollow iron sculpture recasts the human figure curled in a foetal position as a nest — for the soul, and for life itself, while Smriti Dixit’s mixed media works are a glowing celebration of colour and texture, a tapestry of the natural textiles that form the very fabric of our lives.

The exhibition is on until September 30.