Event Art

Avani Rao Gandra’s art draws attention to the destruction of water bodies

A painting by Avani Rao

A painting by Avani Rao  

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Death of a lifeline: Avani Rao Gandra’s installations and paintings evoke a sense of awe even while drawing attention to the gradual destruction of water bodies

And quiet flows the Musi. It would have, if we had allowed it to. Hyderabad was built around the river that’s now polluted beyond recognition and reduced to a mess. A river that snakes through a landscape is its lifeline and if it’s injured and depleted, nature has its way of striking back.

A few days ago, artist and curator Avani Rao Gandra presented a public installation as part of Hyderabad Urban Lab’s ‘Do Din’ event, metaphorically equating the dying river Musi to a wounded snake.

Stemming from that thought, Avani now presents another installation titled Death of a River, using sand, matchsticks and coal tar, in the Iconart studio premises. The river again takes the form of a snake that’s wounded, but there’s a lot more at play in this interpretation.

Avani brings in her observations of how the five elements of nature — water, fire, air, space and earth — are revered. Cultural rituals revolve around respecting the elements of nature. The many matchsticks on the snake’s surface are reminders to the fact that they could be sources of light to dispel darkness or when abused, can cause destruction.

Avani Rao with her installation at the Do Din event recently in Hyderabad

Avani Rao with her installation at the Do Din event recently in Hyderabad   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

‘Flow: Energy, essence, ecstasy of nature’ is Avani’s new series of work and the installation is accompanied by more than 30 paintings on display. For a little more than two years, Avani worked on 60 paintings that leaned towards abstraction, exploring mankind’s connect with water.

Avani talks about the urbanisation Hyderabad has witnessed in the recent decades: “We first built the city around Musi, then Hussain Sagar became the central point and today there’s a lot of urbanisation around Gandipet and other water sources. Water is our lifeline but how much we end up destroying it. We have also reduced rock formations that date back to millions of years into rubble within a short time.”

The installation at Iconart by Avani Rao

The installation at Iconart by Avani Rao  

Her painting series isn’t all about rummaging about destruction. The colours and patterns are glorious enough to evoke a sense of awe. “The masters of abstract art have spoken about using unusual colours. When I began this series, I thought about art history and the use of colours. But then, for more than 50 years I have been enjoying the beauty of natural colours. I love watching sunrises and sunsets; every few months I move away from Hyderabad to river fronts or waterside destinations to enjoy natural colours and beauty. So I couldn’t help but bring in those colours and forms into my work,” she says.

In some paintings, she uses a mix of blue, grey and white tones while others use flaming oranges and black, and yet another group of paintings use earthy browns and blues. On journeys into the sea, near islands and near the sea rimmed by forests, we would see all these colours in time periods.

Circular, ripple like forms are a recurrent motif in a few paintings. These are Avani’s interpretations of a drop of water falling on the surface of the ocean to cause the circular movements. “I’ve used water drops to bring a sense of calm in some paintings; I’ve also used water drops to show that if we shake the balance even a wee bit more, we will be tearing into nature and causing disruption,” she explains.

Viewing these paintings from a distance at the gallery, some of the abstractions resemble lightning while others resembles mandala forms and the yogic energy flow in the body. Avani agrees she’s brought in her understanding of yoga and meditation to the Flow series.

Flow - paintings and installation will be on view at Iconart gallery, Hyderabad, till January 30

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 1:31:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/hyderabads-avani-rao-gandra-draws-attention-to-destruction-of-water-bodies-through-her-paintings-and-installation/article30492720.ece

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