For Johan H. Benthin, the multi-layered abstract image is more than a mere picture
One is struck by Johan Benthin's highly disciplined approach to colours and forms.
A FASCINATING exhibition of abstract paintings, More Than The Eye Can Perceive, on at Time and Space Art Gallery, presents to the viewer a range of works of Johan H. Benthin.
Born and educated in Denmark, Johan is a freelance visual artist who lived in Bangalore for seven years before moving to Mysore. "I spent the 1950s mostly in Scandinavia and visited South England. In the '60s, I was for a good part in South and North America. In the '70s and '80s, I had my studio in Germany. Since the late '90s, India has been my choice of residence," he says.
Besides India, Johan has held solo and group shows in various corners of the world. The 68-year-old artist, who has won several international recognitions, regularly conducts workshops and seminars.
Johan, who likens his art to music (he enjoys both Western and Carnatic classical music) asserts his paintings are "pure emotions which are transported through tones of colour, separated (as well as kept together) by forms..."
He adds: "My abstract pictures are created for the purpose of conveying a mood... It may be difficult to provide verbal affiliations, but then, I've always believed that real painting is beyond the verbal. I work meticulously on my works, some of which have as many as 30 layers of paint!"
Surprisingly for an abstract painter, Johan provides titles to his images.
"I give titles to guide the viewer. As a road-sign indicating in which direction the intention of the artwork is to be found. The works are not illustrations to verbal expressions, but a visual attempt to reach further than the verbal facilities are able to," he explains.
As one views the showcased works, one is struck by a highly disciplined approach to colours, forms, and textures. In some of the innovatively extended compositions, the exhilaration of motifs seems to dominate, while in others, it is the sensation that take precedence. In either case, the control of the artist on his medium is commendable.
There are several attention-grabbing works in the exhibition. Departure, emphasises the force of separation through a pair of black vertical stripes delineated against a predominantly blue background, while Overcoming The Force Of Gravity represents the symbolic flight of a rugged object from its base. Solar Plexus is a comparatively large work awash with bright yellow and intercepted by white, black and grey stripes and shapes. Proportion Two To One is another fascinating piece, where wrinkled sheets of transparent paper are used to create a unique feel and texture. Sentinel works as a charming assemblage of squares and rectangles.
While Door Of Perception uses soft hues and Window To An Intimate Life displays a dark background with a hint of a red curtain. The Gate is an introspective glance at a physical structure. Eruption, as the name suggests, creates a dynamic movement.
But An Emotional Thunderstorm tends towards being a highly restrained yet expressive work.
Equally endearing are the smaller pieces each as tiny as a postcard. Johan calls them Deskart, where manipulated photographs are combined with handmade paper, collaged and painted with acrylic colours before mounting on watercolour-carton or handmade Indian Torchon paper.
"Although the format of these artworks leans towards the old Indian tradition of miniature painting," explains Johan, "the artistic concept, as well as the chosen medium, is of more recent origin. Its intention is to function as an emotional eye-opener; with at least the same level of artistic quality, as could be expected of larger works."
Says curator Akumal Ramachander: "Johan's paintings are truly international class and as good as one can hope to get. They can as well be hanging in any prominent gallery in Paris or London."
(The exhibition concludes on September 19.)
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