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Updated: December 25, 2009 16:25 IST

Urban expressions

ASHRAFI S. BHAGAT
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FEMALE PERSPECTIVE The Urban Pop Paradox
FEMALE PERSPECTIVE The Urban Pop Paradox

Niloufer Seth Siddharth's works provide an arena to jostle her personal angst, struggles and tensions

The complexities of urban living emerge from the streets, which are simply treated as an access to home, the workplace, entertainment or shopping. But, the street becomes a reality in the way it shapes and produces the social, cultural, economic, physical, and political environment of the city. And, it is through the negotiation with the street that we make claims to urban space. The exhibition at Apparao Galleries is titled ‘The Urban Pop Paradox', but there is no paradox in the works of artist Niloufer Seth Siddharth.

As an artist trained in painting and visual communication, Niloufer has attempted to create the urban space through the large formats of her paintings that approximate billboards. The imagery is equally sophisticated, appropriating the fashion advertisements as they line the streets bombarding one's sensibility. The bright colours applied in uniform strokes fill up the area of canvas akin to pop artists' clean, neat and defined imagery. Through the negotiation with urban space, Niloufer articulates her personal concepts as well her identity. She approaches her canvas as a playfield, creatively enacting the high drama of her dexterous skill and facility in visualising her forms and decorative patterning, as well an arena to jostle her personal angst, struggles and tensions. The inherent duality in the opposition of flat areas of colours with intricate and felicitously rendered organic designs in the background of her canvases, or interwoven into hair and eyelids, stands testimony to her inner conflicts over the many roles she plays.

The tension of oppositions is released through her dreams — a Utopian world which she roams freely as reflected through her engagement with youthful feminine forms blissfully lost in a world indicated by their closed eyes. Niloufer has made no attempt to break the beautiful world of dreams in her paintings, vicariously experiencing total freedom.

But, that is not all. At a deeper level, her paintings offer the semantics of the superficiality of life lived within urban spaces. The Barbie doll appearance of her feminine forms imitates the fashion and entertainment industry. Her imagery is both sophisticated and orthodox, and the nose ring defines these dimensions.

What intrigues the viewer is not the iconic directness of her forms, but the intricatepatterned backgrounds. The dialectic which she establishes renders her canvases enigmatic, and this is enhanced through the large sculpted flower forms painted in kitschy enamel colours, which reflect her feminine world. The inner spiritual needs emerge in her black and grey small format works that truly impacts the viewer. A placid serenity embraces these paintings and becomes contemplative. Hence, the urban space offers oppositional dialectics of drama and contemplation, represented through her artistic journey.

The exhibition is on till December 31 at Apparao Galleries.