"Forever Auroville" showcases the works of seven artists who are on a soul-searching journey
There is a history of artists attempting to depict the unseen, trying to formalise the metaphysical and choosing abstraction as a means to this end. In the Indian context, the connection between abstract art and spiritual exploration has been evident in mandala and yantra drawings since time immemorial, while in the West this connection has been categorically marked at least from the time of Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian, pioneers of abstraction in art, almost a century ago. Kandinsky had stated that `art should display the spiritual forces behind the visual world' and in keeping with this philosophy are the works of seven artists from Auroville."Forever Auroville" is a show by artists who live in the utopia created nearly four decades ago to exemplify human unity. The commonality in the paintings and sculptures by Agnus Gastmans, Hufreesh Dumasia, Nele Martens, Aron Nicolet, Veronique Nicolet, Anna Maria Pezzetta and Henk van Putten being exhibited at Art World, lies in their soul-searching quest though their ages vary from 20 to 70. All the works speak out for the spiritual experience that is quintessentially Auroville. Having trained in l'Ecole d'arts Visuels in Geneva, Veronique Nicolet currently lives in Auroville with her family, teaching and practising art. The mystical in her work is grounded in colour field expressionism as typified by Mark Rothko, but has unusually adopted the emotional associations of delicate calligraphic forms within it.
Aron Nicolet's painting suggests the technique of gestural expressionism where the white canvas has taken on earthy hues with bright red highlights. With rampant energy, horizontals and verticals are ensnared in a flux of movement. Spontaneity marks the paintings by Hufreesh where texture is given the leading role as the artist has worked with dripping paint or with palette knife. Nele Martens toys with the forces of energy through her manipulation of colours, most notably the blues and yellows. Having studied art in Munich and Florence, the painter-sculptor is also an art teacher. Anna Maria Pezzetta's works are inspired by `visions' associated with her spiritual quest while Agnus Gastmans' are symbolic of feeling. Painting with acrylic and oils on rusted steel boxes, Gastmans' works are simple and symmetrical, suggesting derivations from elemental yantra drawings. Of the works on display, it is her husband and fellow artist, Henk van Putten's work that warrants a lingering look. Primarily a sculptor, he is fascinated by three-dimensional structures and teases the viewer with puzzle forms created with interlocking elements and visual illusions. Different materials respond to his idea differently be they stone, metal, wood or paint on panel. The extension of the idea of shape and space in different media and in varied sizes permits the mind to explore various possibilities and see new solutions through altered responses. A brief glimpse into the hearts and minds of Auroville is on display until August 14 at Art World, 12, Ganeshpuram, Third Street, off Cenotaph Road. SWAPNA SATHISH