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Mixed media

There's plenty happening on the art scene in the city. Here are some reviews

LONGING FOR a child, conceiving, childbirth, miscarriage and abortion are common in the lives of women. Most often, people sympathise only with the woman when she loses her baby; but the man too feels for her and suffers the loss; the joy and agony are shared by the couple. But the ability to conceive and give birth sets her apart; as she grows older, the woman gains the mental strength to face life's challenges and this balances the physical strength of the man. All these are dealt with metaphorically in Puneet Kaushik's mixed media works on show at Amethyst till April 7, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The series is titled `Embryo.' The works are on a small scale and various materials such as broken test tubes, crumpled cloth and red stitches are all fixed within box-like frames. Hundreds of pins are pierced into a shell-like form reminding one of pain. One may even call them miniature installations. Here and there, watercolour wash is applied. Two small sculptures of a male and female are painted with his blood. When you learn this you cringe but you are also hypnotised by it. The significance is not too clear till you talk to the artist and understand the depth of his ideas. Some of the images can leave you uncomfortable or make you wonder "why such themes in art?" On a totally different note are the ink drawings in his sketchbooks — Devi in her various incarnations and scenes from the epics. Some are abstract despite titles like `Parvati and Ganesha.' In one of the books titled `Memories,' the artist seems to be taking a peek at his past. Here too different materials are used to create different levels and textures.

Village vistas

THE WATERCOLOURS by Manas Ranjan Parida are a sharp contrast to Talak's abstractions. The lines are simple and straightforward, portraying scenes from Bhuvaneshwar (Orissa) and the artist's native village, which is situated 60 km away. Parida reveals a reasonably good mastery over the medium, which is not easy to work with. Following the classical technique, he had visualised scenes of the city near the Lingaraja temple - an arched entrance, a Nandi pillar, humble huts, rural folk moving about on dusty village lanes, and boats moored on the Puri beach and the Chilika Lake. A graduate in Fine Arts from Utkal University, young Parida's works are spontaneous and drawn from real life subjects rather than photographs, revealing his dedication to the chosen medium of expression.

Parida's works are on display at Vinyasa Art Galley till April 10, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Epic ideas THE MEANING underlying the paintings of Mohanmurli Talak, a self-taught artist from Karnataka, is not clear from the titles. Not after considerable contemplation does one discover the hardly visible images behind the obvious forms. Even so, many of them need explanation by the artist if they are to be understood.

Some of the works deal with life situations - the first touches of grey that a woman finds as she looks at a mirror, man-woman relationships and procreation — often represented by some rare themes from the Mahabharata.

At first glance, many of the paintings look like abstractions, with ephemeral images of man, woman and sexual symbols such as snake and horse gradually emerging.

Thus, the almost completely blue `The Future Yet Ahead' features the male symbol in the centre, with a female form gazing at a distant moon in the forefront, perhaps representing the future and hoping for union with the man. The reclining form of the woman appears like a hill in the painting `The Past Yet Alive,' in which the predominant colour is brown.

`Kunti With Soorya' depicts the mental state of Kunti when she had to abandon Karna, the child born to her through the power of the Sun God. The wet flower represents her feelings, while the entire surface of the canvas is dominated by a vibrant yellowish orange, symbolising Soorya, whose face is vaguely seen. The five elements are portrayed through another episode from the Mahabharata in `Panchabhoothas Engulf'. Here, the five Pandava princes represent the elements surrounding Draupadi. In his depiction of death, Talak has used the episode of Pandu's death after his union with Madri, and Kunti watching helplessly comes to his aid.

Talak says he spends time with scholars and sanyasis discussing with them the many situations mentioned in the epics and their deeper meanings, many of which have a scientific significance. Only in `Pratiksha' (oil on paper), does one clearly see the form of a woman waiting for her man. The beautifully drawn peacock symbolises the male here. The figures are put in an architectural frame, making the whole an interesting pattern in varied shades of blue and green. There are a few paintings of Ganesha too; one of them is a fine depiction of a Khajuraho sculpture.

Talak's works are on show at Lakshana Art Gallery till April 8, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.


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