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Womanhood on canvas

Although the works of art by women mounted at Shrishti Art Gallery are concerned with gender preoccupations, they are not bound by a strong agenda.

ARRAY OF PAINTINGS: Works by women.

An art show at the Shrishti Art Gallery concerned itself with the subject of women although the display hardly evokes any exigency. Except fora few artists like Gogi Saroj Pal, Padma Reddy, Prathiba Singh, Lavanya Dutt, Devi Sivadas, Prathiba Singh and Anjani Reddy, the other artists on display either installed a very academic syntax or portrayed a very casual commitment to art.

Works like `Woman with letter' by Sita Sastry or Udaya Lakshmi's `Milkmaid' and `Banjarans' in watercolour and Daya Astaputre's Indian beauty in oil are academic studies generally rendered based on specifications. Coming to the serious ones Anuradha Nalapat springs a surprise. Basically a conceptual artist, her participation in the show appears obligatory. Nevertheless, the feminine nuances realised in the tree form, done in oils, find a fine parallel in nature.

Gogi Saroj Pal, an evolved artist who is devoted completely to her concept of womanhood, invariably depends upon her environment to provide her the vocabulary. In a catalogue she states: ".... my creative visual expressions converge on `Being a Woman' and the unequal relationships which exist in society." The four `Untitled' female forms in this show are icons of her perception of the female presence and essentially an extension of her artistic ideology.

Padma Reddy is yet another dedicated artist who has kept her line of thought intact and employs a balanced feminist gusto. By constantly applying her situations in her graphics, she in fact, opens up some very personal aspects for public viewing. The two etchings `La belle dame (sans) has merci' - I and `La belle dame (sans) has merci' - II are expressions of compassion inherent of a woman. Punning on the French wantonness, the artist reverts to a graciousness, which is deeper than the negatives of promiscuity.

Devi Sivadas' `Growing old along with me. The best is yet to come' in oil is an endearing canvas of an aging woman who is portrayed with complete optimism.

FEMALE FORM: Artistic expressions.

Prathiba Singh's sequential works in water colour and tempera `On the full moon day' and `Mirror, where is the moon?' celebrates the feminine while creating a drama of the picture and title. Lavanya Dutt, on the other hand, comes up with her usual portrait gallery with a strong painterly attitude than any persuasive gender utterances.

Anjani Reddy stands firmly on a very satiated sense of womanhood. Her content, therefore, is obvious in her nostalgia where she travels back in time to her `Ancestral house' or finding a spot in the picnic. Celebrating her memories in vivid colours, her canvas becomes a lyrical picture oscillating between realism and make belief.

Although these were a few artists with gender-based preoccupations, a strong agenda is still missing converting the entire show into a mere documentation of a flippant endeavour. For, there was no string that could bind an idea, a thought, a feeling or even an issue.

If one may ask what were those glorious `Sunflowers' of Roopa Mahesh doing besides Lakshmi Reddy's `Sankranti' or a Ravi Verma's copy of Damayanti by Annapurna in the Tanjore style doing in a contemporary line of paintings then one goes back to the catalogue copy where the entire effort is wasted in establishing the being of the female artist. The show is open all days between 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. at Shrishti Art Gallery.


Photos: K. Ramesh Babu

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