Along the Alps, up the Mont

The glass doors open. There is a gush of white. All you see is mountains for eternity. Snow covered mountains with a blinding sheen. Like folds of a gown, with creases at certain instants and smooth satin left to flow in certain others, the white princess spreads her beauty as Mont Blanc in the Alps, and as a series of acrylic paintings in the Art Houz.

A surprisingly refreshing addition to the previously noteworthy collection of the artist, the paintings seem to shout out the versatility of A P Shreethar with his strokes. One could imagine how his brushes would have tickled the surface of the canvas to bring out the glistening silver of the pinnacles, or scumbled over to produce the moonlit shadows of majesticity.

The paintings, which adopt the unseen style of ‘14-layered realism’, as the name suggests, appear real to the point that the click of your sandals on tiles begin to sound more like the sound of gumboots on the crunching grass on a misty morning. You check for the misty breath and run your fingers to feel the gooseflesh.

A long focused look gets the 3D effect of the paintings on to your head and you begin to imagine the ice slowly melt from the caps, unveiling the rusty wrinkles of rocks. You tend to wait a little longer for the white blots of cotton clouds to move, so that the summit is seen or even extend a hand to touch the snow that has slowly smudged its way down like a semi-melted vanilla scoop.

The 20 odd paintings from the collection of 121 mountain themed paintings of Shreethar come as a prologue to his work on the subject, which he plans to pursue for the next couple of years, visiting La Princess Blanche himself.

At the inauguration of the seminal collection, Franck Priot, COO and Deputy Director General of Film France, apart from establishing the obvious connection that the paintings held with France, also draws out a common thread between an artist and a film-maker. The first step in producing a cinema, Franck says, is to bring out the photos, where it’s all about creating stories based on shapes, voice and figures of those seen for real. “It is true and not true at the same time,” he adds.

This takes one revisiting the golden contours of Mont Blanc in one of the paintings. It has neither the malevolence of grayish blue, nor the mystique of white. Almost like discovering a burning pile of woods amidst the accrual of ice, the painting brings out a sense of warmth. “…So solemn, so serene, that man may be … But for such faith with nature reconciled…” Shelly was so right.

The 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 :