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Light and shadow

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Heritage on canvas One of the paintings on display
Heritage on canvas One of the paintings on display

Shraddha Rathi's exhibiton is a study in perspective

You could call it sacred geometry. Curves and crescents, planes and pillars – the thick flat strokes of oil paint on canvas form almost three-dimensional studies in shadow and structure of various heritage buildings in the country.

Shraddha Rathi's ICCR Art Gallery exhibition, titled Shadows, captures various elements of temples, churches, historical buildings and even tombs. The paintings are deceptively simple at first glance: the heavy iron door of a temple with its wrought handle jutting out, a brass vessel holding water and fiery red flowers, the ornate flowery carvings that edge the parapet of a church.

It's the perspectives that give every painting greater dimension. An architect by profession, Shraddha has played with light to produce different effects as the light falls onto the structures from different angles. One study of three mournful statues in Egypt is painted in tints of ochre and brown, as light from the sunset falls from within.

Another painting is of a beatific Buddha, light falling onto his face to add a sheen of divinity. What is remarkable is that the canvas is split into two – the top half focussing on the Buddha's face and shoulders, and the bottom on his hands and lower body. The point here is to give equal importance to the Buddha's face in the upper image, and to the mudra of his hands in the bottom, since, as the artist says, most people merely glance at the face in a painting since they assume only that is a gauge of mood and expression. Shraddha practises the same partitioning in a glimpse of three stairs leading upwards. The splitting of the paintings into panels makes for an interesting study.

Shadows is on at the ICCR Art Gallery in Kala Bhavan, Ravindra Bharti Complex, until December 4.

JAYASHREE ARUNACHALAM

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