Lalitha Shankar’s sculptures invite you to reflect upon yourself

As soon as you enter, you see six pouches hanging from the wall. Some of them are empty, some contain something that looks brown, wait, it’s soil. That can be inferred by the fact that the pouch in the middle actually has a plant growing inside. Intrigued, you take a closer look, only to realize that the pouches are not made of plastic, they look like glass, but as the title next to it reads, it’s cast acrylic and the piece is called “Looking In – VIII” one of the eight sculptures by Lalitha Shankar on display at Gallery Sumukha.

Lalitha has used a whole range of mediums, stainless steel, wood, bronze, even fabric to create sculptures that are textural and tactile; have clean, sharp lines, subdued colours and are, most of all, very visual, meaning that you are drawn to come and take a closer look.

Take “Looking In- VII”, the sculpture is composed of a stainless steel pedestal facing inwards. The pedestal has a peephole through which there is a colour-changing light. The pedestal is cordoned by concentric metal wires with hook-ends.

Then there are geometric shapes in cast bronze, sometime grouped together in different arrangements on wooden table; placed on white rectangular pedestals made of acrylic and gauze or carved into cast bronze cubes placed on a low table. The introductory note describes that the artist as trying to “bring forth the subtle meanings and interpretations of the spiritual concepts of the manifestations in reality and non-duality. Her intention is to provoke a certain intrigue, inquisitiveness and introspection in every individual viewer.”

But Lalitha is quite emphatic about the visual grammar of the sculptures.

“The works have to touch the viewer visually, impact them in some way, like a music concert would. The very idea of ‘Looking In’ is to both look at the physical level as well as offer a way of looking in to oneself with the idea of ‘who are you’,” she explains. When she conceives something in her head, she is clear about its every aspect, whether it’s the material or the colours.

Each of the geometric shapes or colours are that she has used here is representative, the square represents the earth, the triangle represents procreation, the circle represents birth, the rectangles represent birth and death.

“But it is a visual medium and you cannot separate these aspects into boxes. My work is a reflection of who I am, and I have been studying yoga since 1981 so that percolates into my works, but in an organic way.”

“Looking In” will be on view until August 17 at Gallery Sumukha, 24/10, BTS Depot Road, Wilson Garden. For details, contact 22292230.