Friday Review » Art

Updated: November 9, 2012 18:52 IST

Where is the space?

Harshini Vakkalanka
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Wood as canvas for graphic imagery
Wood as canvas for graphic imagery

Urmila V.G. explores the symbiotic relationship between man and nature in her series of works

Calvin once asks Hobbes how people how like it if animals bulldozed a suburb and replaced the house with trees? Here again, as he has always done, cartoonist Bill Watterson has addressed a pressing social issue through the popular strip. This time, he raises the issues of man vs nature and this is the same issue that artist Urmila V.G. playfully (hence the Calvin reference) addresses in her latest exhibition “Have Space Will Grow”, at Gallery Five Forty Five.

In a series of woodcuts, Urmila fuses together two powerful forces — nature and humanity that at first seems very playful. Small trees grow of toilets, plants grow out of a pair of sneakers, radios spout long-stemmed flowers or vines grow out of telephones as nature fights its way into the world of man through his objects.

What is playful is her bright, graphic imagery and her unusual choice of largely mild colours which lends more clarity to the image. But the underlying message comes through even more effectively simply because of the playfulness which draws the full attention of the viewer onto the unusual imagery.

“My pre-occupation and concerns about the environmental issues in urban living has naturally reflected in this current series of works. I have tried to focus on the need of co-existence and also nature itself becoming adaptable with the humans by finding new, unusual places to grow,” explains Urmila.

“I feel the images I have developed in this series speak a lot about space to live which is one of the biggest concerns in a city. The visuals I've chosen are from our day-to-day lives and surroundings, but the synthesis between the natural and man made objects becomes a satirical social comment.”

The series of woodcuts is followed by a series of smaller photographs showcasing the same subjects, sometimes identical to her woodcuts.

“In the set of photographs, the lighting is completely natural, but they are composed in such a way that they look more playful and dramatic which plays a very important roll in creating depth and dimension,” adds Urmila.

“Have Space, Will Grow” will be on view until November 20 at Gallery Five Forty Five, 545, 6th Main, 4th Cross, Indira Nagar II. For details, contact

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