Giving a form to notions

Subtle and haunting. The paintings and sculptures at Sarala art gallery take one to the realms of unknown, surpassing which, one finds oneself reborn. Such an impact shouldn’t be surprising given the names like Amitabh Sengupta, Jatin Das among the other 15 revered artists whose works have been exhibited.

Abstract, sparing one that is a landscape, the untitled paintings find themselves in the milieu of bronze and stone sculptures. These look mysterious. Almost like the sacred gods of the gallery who keep a look on you while you look at the paintings.

So when you see the painting with voluptuous women bound to their livelihood, your attention is also drawn to the sphinx look-alike stone structure that rests beside it. The women in the painting are busy with their chores. One of them has a basket of fish on her head and there is another playing flute. It is hard to decode what’s on their mind. But of course, they are women, so the attempt is as good as futile and you move on.

A worn-out page of a manuscript, with embossed letters sprouting occasionally — Like a grand secret or a clue which Robert Langdon, the famous Dan Brown made symbologist, carries around —  Sengupta’s twin paintings almost make you take a step back in the fear that you have exposed yourself to something which you shouldn’t have. Focusing on the written lines that are smudged by the brush strokes, you find yourself turning into a cryptologist trying to challenge your linguistic proficiency.

The next step you take is into a pool of bluish-green ocean. The smooth transition of colours from dark blue at the depths to a lighter shade at the horizon, makes you want to wet your fingers in the chill waters that they seem to be. If this felt like an aqua therapy, the next painting whisks you away into a misty land dotted with red-roofed houses and tall trees. You think twice before even exhaling, fearing that the slightest of movements can disturb the tranquility of the place. The chatter grows, and you fight the urge to silence the gossiping women folk in the adjacent painting – an art by Jatin Das. However, you immediately lose your will as you are drawn to the jasmine in their hair that lusciously falls until their midriff.

As you exit, you find yourself face to face with a family of, well, penguin and human hybrid forms – black faces and grainy body. Carved out of stone, they gaze at you with a hope-you-liked-it look. You can almost hear yourself giving your reviews to them. Outlandish! But, so was the collection.

The exhibition is on till July 20.

This article was previously published in The New Indian Express. Check out –


When art becomes the lingua franca

God is watching you – A familiar saying used by every parent to control their kids’ tantrums. If you hadn’t believed them then, it’s time you changed your decision.

Those captivating eyes, probably of the supreme, are everywhere. They bewitch you, along with the interplay of colours in the paintings, which blend and breathe. At points where the colours merge, you almost want to look away as they moan with pleasure celebrating another creation by Vandana Jain, in her collection, An eternal endeavour at La Galerie D’Expression.

One of the pieces, done on a tray had a couple’s faces at the centre, bulged out – like how you see yourself at the back of a spoon. Then to make things slightly creepy are eyes staring at the couple from the parting of a curtain of colours surrounding them.

“Sometimes I just don’t know what I am painting. See this one here,” said Vandana, walking towards one of her paintings which had eyes drawn on rectangular frames, like reflection of ones face in broken pieces of a mirror. “I just did many geometrical patterns initially and then left it for two days, after which I got a spiritual calling to paint Durga’s face and a tiger’s to complete it.” The piece, however, looks like a result of several months’ planning.

If the eyes didn’t remind you of Karma enough, a few paintings ahead, you find yourself face to face with the huge Gomateshwara, a deity worshipped by the Jains. The 35-year-old painting, seemingly real and intricate, had not missed out even the creepers which, as the history has it, had grown on his hands due to extended meditation.

An ardent meditator herself, she recounts how in the past her emotions have been guided by god himself. “I still remember the night when Ganesha came in my dreams,” she said, automatically joining her hands in a pranam. “The next day, the first thing I drew, almost effortlessly was his eyes,” added Vandana, who has done her thesis on Chinese pottery as a part of her MFA programme at Stella Maris.

Thus, if one wishes to see a lingering obsession with Chinese art in her paintings, there is a series of Chinese literati works at display, which have succeeded in capturing the ecosystem of Mount Fuji and the Indian landscapes, in its magnificent form, all in black and white. Chinese art, she said, focuses a lot on perfection – a flaw in a single stroke will result in your work being discarded. This makes one appreciate the simple bamboo tree, or the more abstract ones like Japanese orchids, even more.

Be it abstract pieces like the portrayal of four seasons on one canvas or concrete ones that depict Shankeshwar parshvanath, the snake god for Jains, and his wife, Padmavathy, one can see the use of peacock feathers, the geometrical patterns of circles and triangles, or the ripe orange sun, being used in most of them to retain a sense of divinity.

While packing the spiritual grace apart from the artistic pleasure, be sure to stuff in some luck from the Waterfall exuberance, which she refers to as her lucky painting, as it got her son married and helped raise her financial status.

The exhibition is on at Ambassador Pallava till June 30.

This article was previously published in The New Indian Express. Check out the link :