Silence rules the canvas of Ahmedabad-based artist Sarika Mehta, who is having her debut solo show in the Capital

It’s difficult for Sarika Mehta to explain every motif in her canvas. The surrealistic expression of the young Ahmedabad-based artist, on display at the debut solo show “Born from the Terrain” at Latitude 28 gallery, is, understandably, difficult to explain. Laden with metaphors, interpret it the way you will, and if you are lucky enough to find the artist around — though she leaves for Ahmedabad soon — feel free to discuss it with her. She is open to feedback. Delhi might offer a vibrant scene in terms of art-related happenings but home, especially Baroda, offers a much better discourse. “Every gully has an artist there. Everybody who comes to art openings discusses art and nobody thinks twice before giving an honest opinion about your art,” says the artist who is here as she wants to gain exposure and experience of showing in different cities.

Sarika, who first studied painting during her diploma course from C.N. College of Fine arts, Ahmedabad, and then printmaking from M.S. University, Baroda, is exhibiting six oils on canvas, two pencil drawings on art spectrum paper, eight pencil drawings on rice paper, three watercolours and one site-specific installation. Sparsely populated, her minimalistic expressions are steeped in silence. The artist avers that she is indeed looking inward, looking for solitude in between all this clutter and din. “It is about the inner journey which takes place along with the outward journey, and it is better if both are in harmony,” she says. Pointing at an untitled work rendered in oil, the ladder is not a metaphor for success but journey. “It can be arduous but the outcome or the experiences themselves can be so beautiful, which is why this beautiful flower blossoms where this ladder ends.”

Vast empty spaces is another important element to her art, and Sarika attributes it to her training in printmaking. “When you are doing black-and-white prints, you are dealing with space. I think that’s how spaces have crept into my art.” Having studied painting at the diploma level and printmaking for her Master’s, does she think she has got the best of both worlds? “Yes, I believe so. The technique that I learnt has helped me improve my image. Printmaking is a different medium and the process of learning it is also different. While painting is a solitary affair, learning printmaking in college was always a group activity where everybody worked together. There are a very few printmaking studios, which means you have to share space. To be within yourself even when you are surrounded by people is something that I learnt there.” And the fact that she meditates just helps.

The muted shades complement her zen thoughts. “All unnecessary things just go out from my inner space and what stays is what I can relate with most. It’s a zen thought, which says that as you try to minimise things only what is most important remains.”

So be it a heap of stones arranged carefully on a water-like body against a black and white background, a charpoy and an anthill crawling with ants, a bunch of decaying roots amidst melting ice cubes, Sarika’s renditions are extracted from memory and personal experiences. One of the oldest works in the lot — the bunch of decaying roots amidst melting ice cubes — was done when she was expecting. “It was a complex situation and I was experiencing mixed feelings.”

The collection features a site-specific installation, ‘Flow’, which flows in an algae-like form around the air conditioning pipes in the gallery staircase. The installation is made from shredded wet towels painted with oil pigments. “It’s raw, wild, yet beautiful, just like emotions.” She has been working on this theme for sometime and has done somewhat similar installations in Mumbai.

(The exhibition is on at Latitude 28, Lado Sarai, New Delhi, till May 20.)