Koeli Mukherjee Ghose explores the theme ‘Visvarupa’ beyond realms of mythology

Sometime in 2007, Koeli Mukherjee Ghose exhibited a few works in water colours and acrylic, in Chennai, exploring the theme of Visvarupa. Most works were sold and she felt the need to explore the concept further with newer ideas. The ongoing exhibition at Poecile gallery has a large collection of her works done between 2008 and 2013.

Visvarupa or vishwaroopam, as she sees it, is realising the ‘potential form’. “Through mythology we’ve learnt how a mother discovered the world in baby Krishna’s mouth and how Arjuna saw Krishna’s true form on the battlefield. I wanted to extend this idea of ‘potential form’ to everything around us,” she explains.

The compositions are structured but retain their fluidity. Koeli uses a number of intricate calligraphic lines, almost like a mesh, to detail her forms. The calligraphic lines, she says, become the bridge between the quietness of everyday life and the noise of creativity. Her technique is an extension of her learning in Shantiniketan under veterans like Nandalal Bose. “I do have a form and structure in mind. When I paint, my brush responds to the surface and I let the forms express what’s going on in my mind at the moment. There is no rigidity in composition,” she reasons. There are dark blobs alternating with clean lines, adding layers to the works.

There are images of goddess Durga, in subtle watercolours of ochre, yellow and crimson, where the form is outlined with an abundance of calligraphic lines, so as to convey the potential form of the goddess.

There are faces and forms, of men and women responding to their everyday surroundings. There are female forms bent backwards, a throwback to the artiste’s earlier works. A curious work of a man and a bird picking at the same apple was born out of an observation during an art camp in Bhopal. “We were at a national art camp with a group of artistes. We were given lunch trays and as the days progressed, we noticed a few trays missing. The missing trays were the handiwork of monkeys in the area. That tussle between man and an animal for food stuck with me,” says Koeli.

Bold strokes of the bamboo quill, the empty spaces and the calligraphic lines add to the depth of the images.

What: Visvarupa, paintings by Koeli Mukherjee Ghose

Where: Poecile Art Gallery, Road no. 2, Banjara Hill, opp. KBR Park

When: Till June 9