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Science and strokes

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EYE FOR DETAIL Parvathi Nayar with one of her works
EYE FOR DETAIL Parvathi Nayar with one of her works

Science holds a special fascination for Singapore-based artist Parvathi Nayar

In today's world of instant art, Parvathi Nayar feels like a bit of a rebel. After all, she spends hours on intricate renderings of the world's oldest art form drawing. "I believe in emphasising the handmade in an obsessive way," says the Singapore-based artist. Drawing wasn't always her focus. In fact, as recently as 2003 when she went to London for her Masters in Fine Arts, she thought of drawing just as a preliminary step to painting. "The students and teachers there kept telling me what a good draftswoman I was," she says. "Seeing drawings as an end in themselves was a real breakthrough in my career."

Unusual theme

The subjects of her recent drawings are unusual science. Parvathi has always been fascinated by science, from Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" to quantum theory and Schrodinger's Cat. She's no physicist, but science appeals to the artist in her as it represents a different way of looking at and understanding the world. "There's so much beneath the surface that's fantastical if you only look at the world as it is," she says.And so, Parvathi began to collect varied macroscopic and microscopic scientific images, blew them up, and what she saw became the basis of her collection that was exhibited in Singapore and recently in Mumbai. Her detailed drawings range from images from the Hubble space telescope to trails of sub-atomic particles, within a circle representing the lens of a telescope or a microscope. Each of these drawings, which range in size just as they do in content, may look like pretty patterns to the untrained eye, but are done with great precision.

Fragmentary art

These snapshots of Nature speak of Parvathi's larger concern for fragmentation in her art. "Our lives are fragmented in so many ways we're just fragments in the larger human history, and our own lives are fragmented into all the different roles we play," she says. Plus, from a purely artistic perspective, she believes that fragmentary art pieces are more enticing, calling upon the viewer to participate and complete the picture and the story.Drawing in the spectator is why Parvathi has recently taken to the creation of installations for her art. "I worked with an installation designer in Singapore to try and manipulate space and people's bodies to see my drawings in a particular way," she says. She's now thinking of doing another installation for a thematic exhibition revolving around scientific images of reproduction.An alumnus of the Stella Maris Fine Arts Department, Parvathi may have left for Singapore in the late 1980s, but returns frequently to her home base in Chennai. While she splits her time between Singapore, Jakarta and London, the artist was encouraged by the reception to her work exhibited at the National Centre of Performing Arts Gallery in Mumbai recently as part of the group show `Soft Spoken', and hopes to some day hold an exhibition in Chennai.DIVYA KUMAR

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