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Updated: March 24, 2010 18:26 IST

Visual variety

ASHRAFI S. BHAGAT
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LINES AND CIRCLES One of the paintings on view
LINES AND CIRCLES One of the paintings on view

Geometric shapes, yantric diagrams, lithographs…the works of 12 artists on show at Taj Mount Road are as diverse as they are colourful

In the past year, Chennai witnessed the emergence of another player within the artistic arena — The Faraway Tree Gallery, which opened in March 2009. The exhibition by this gallery at Taj Mount Road, titled “Tranquility”, showcases the works of 12 artists – Akkitham Nayanan, Akmal Hussain, Babu Eshwar Prasad, Bibekananda Santra, Gurdeep Singh, John Tun Sein, Laxman Aelay, Keiko Mima, Kirti Chandak, Nirmala Biluka, Premlatha Seshadri and lithographs of S.H. Raza.

The representative works with diverse themes and visual language offer no intellectual challenge, except for the abstracts of Raza, Akkitham, Premlatha, John, and Gurdeep and the figurative works of Babu, Santra and Aelay. The abstracts which are non-mimetic, that is, bearing no relationship to objects from the visible world, have been articulated purely through colour and form, premised on a concept or theme.

Raza, a senior Paris-based artist and a founder-member of the Progressive Art Group founded in 1947 in Bombay, has engaged with the concept of ‘bindu' juxtaposed with ritualistic yantra diagrams, particularly the triangle, to recreate abstracts intelligently and artistically that are reflective of the diversity of Indian culture and the people. The colours are brilliant, vibrant and magically enchanting, with an alluring quality enhanced by precisely calculated whites between colours that lend a lilting luminosity.

The five elements

Akkitham's works have a certain similarity to Raza's, since the referential point is yantric diagrams. The structured geometry and earthy colours are meticulously laid out, reflecting the inherent pattern in the cosmos. His works are a world in themselves, as he conceptually engages with the five elements, an abstraction which Akkitham translates through geometric shapes — squares, circles, triangles, rectangles and the ubiquitous line. The architectonic quality of his works is reflective of traditional Kerala architecture, while his colours come from the mural paintings.

Premlatha's quasi abstracts have a contemplative zen quality, arising from her controlled use of line and colour. Since she is also a printmaker, her compositions articulate the experiences of that medium with calculated precision and meticulous organisation.

The synoptic quality, gestures towards her ability to reduce to essentials in cryptic calligraphic strokes forms in Nature or bring out in organised colour patterns, the hues of the different seasons. All three artists use design to create visual appeal.

In contrast, the abstracts of John and Gurdeep are organic with a free play of colours and brush strokes. For John sublime is not “out there”, as in a landscape or painting, but “in here”, within the artist and his experiences. His abstracts live on the thin edge between contemplative silences and raw vigour. His works are created through techniques of removing gently and subtly layers of paint to reveal part of the painting underneath, including corrections and alterations. Many of his works involve elements such as scaffolds of lines and bands, overlapping planes and atmospheric veils of colour through which layers of activity can be perceived. The effect is sometimes architectonic or organic in which the aesthetic is dependent on the intricacy of tonal poetry enmeshed with the overall design. Gurdeep's works offer a contrast to John's in terms of its vigorous play of plundering brush strokes and strident colours manifesting energy and rhythmic vitality.

The figurative or representational artists within this cluster who make an impact are Babu Eshwar Prasad, Bibantaka and Aelay. Babu's work is enigmatic, referencing ancient monuments and a lifeless tree juxtaposed with an aircraft that has an unsettling quietude, within an eerie surreal ambience, reinforced by colours that have a strident resonance. Bibekananda's bold and expressionist representation of Buddha and Mother and Child has a stridency and urgency voiced through his casual strokes that either flutter or configure as the triangular white-patterned medley and the showering flowers.

Women-centric

Aelay's works are largely women-centric, reflecting his rural roots with quotidian scenes, yet simply and powerfully composed to make an impact.

The works of Akmal Hussain, Keiko Mima, Kirti Chandak and Nirmala Biluka are premised on realism and portray rural and urban vignettes as well as Nature.

The show is on at Brew, Taj Mount Road till March 28.

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