Art

A date with the real

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Yasmin Sawhney’s fresh colours

Women unsung but not brooding, waiting but not wailing, the pots and the vessels (animated as human beings) claiming they aren’t empty anymore and making their ‘noises felt’…. These are themes that 65-year-old self-taught artist Yasmin Sawhney has delved into in her latest works titled “The soul has its reasons.” They are as much inspirational and motivating as they are a tale of courage and creativity. The reason — the artist has no central vision in her eyes.

Mounted at New Delhi’s Academy of Fine Arts & Literature, each painting in the exhibition is accompanied by a poem written by her. Her poem “Find Your Space”, accompanies a female figure stylishly lounging on a couch. She is “a time honoured woman of today who is in control of herself”. Another work, “Genesis”, is a synthesis of men and women and apparently represents women wondering when they would be equal to men. Yasmin’s folk singer laments that she sings of kings, queen and palaces but no one sings about or for her. Yasmin doesn’t disrobe her women to “grab eyeballs”. They speak through their stance, glance and hand gestures.

Symbol of courage

Yasmin cannot see colours or colour-tubes. Hence she uses huge stencils to identify colours. With serigraphy and brush, magnifying glasses and her own imagination, she paints. Since she cannot control/adjust a canvas because of lack of coordination between the eyes, the hands and the brain, she sits on the floor to paint. She explains, “I use peripheral vision to work, meaning I see on one side and paint from the other. Whatever I can see from the corners of my eyes, I try to make sense of that.”

Yasmin’s each work and poem is almost autobiographical. In 1994, her only son and family’s sole earning member was killed on the road. She is still awaiting justice. She says she goes to the courts alone, often falling as she can’t see but tries to “keep the spirit going”.

“If something wrong has happened to us, we shouldn’t yield but clamour,” she asserts.

Calling herself “a realist” and not a feminist, Yasmin is annoyed if the media focuses on her incapacities rather than advantages. “I am not a wonder woman, I am ageless,” she concludes.

(The show is on view till October 15.)

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 6:55:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/A-date-with-the-real/article16886043.ece

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