An ongoing exhibition highlights new voices in contemporary art that focus on urbanisation, spiritual journeys and human networks
Kusum Lata Sharma is an art practitioner and researcher in Bhopal, which is often referred to as a city of lakes. A few years ago, she began a contemporary art series ‘Water Hyacinth’. Having worked on a 100 paintings in the series, she asserts that art has to reflect reality — in this case, disruption of ecological balance. A few paintings from the ‘Water Hyacinth’ series are on view at Kalakriti art gallery, Hyderabad, and the gallery’s website (kalakritiartgallery.com).The ongoing exhibition ‘Through the Looking Glass: New Voices in Contemporary Art’ dips into the diverse viewpoints and techniques of emerging contemporary artists.
A painting by Kusum Lata Sharma
“At first, the water hyacinth appears beautiful, glistening in the sun rays. Soon, it takes over the water body and the aquatic life is deprived of oxygen and nutrients. I’ve tried to convey this dichotomy, using symbolism and abstraction,” says Kusum. She compares this takeover of the water hyacinth to the rampant urbanisation in cities where the quality of life takes a hit. Her paintings are elaborately detailed, over several layers, offering a bird’s eye view of a city and its plight. In her Dream City series, she allows her imagination to soar and says, “dreams are limitless, full of possibilities.” Protyusha Mitra, Balagopalan Bala, Nishant Dange, Sumit Banerjee, Uday Goswami, Ekta Sharma and Divya Patwa are among the many featured artists.Diverse techniques
Aishwarya Sultania’s Network
Among the artworks on display, mixed media sculptural installations by Aishwarya Sultania deserve a mention. She has been working extensively with wood, carving or etching them, and at times using them as part of a larger work. In a ‘Network’, she rethinks the ‘six degrees of separation’ in a contemporary, shrinking world where people are interconnected more than ever before. The ‘jalebi’ symbolises the network. The jalebi is a recurring motif in her art and ironically, Aishwarya explains that when she first did a jalebi mixed media work, it was rejected by an art gallery: “But I persuaded; and it was the first piece to be sold!” In another set of five works, she depicts the life of Buddha, adding a gold-tinted aluminium foil to hint at the enlightenment.
A painting by Ekta Singha
Artist Ekta Singha looks back at the past — her family lineage that can be traced to a royal Rajput family — and on the other hand, reflects her journey of sharing a hostel room while studying art. An image of mattresses piled up in the hostel room, for instance, is from her series on everyday life. In ‘Story of a Kingdom’ and ‘Joint Family’ series, she shares stories of her family using techniques such as the sepia-tinted, faded or burnt pages from a diary.Transformative journeyThe paintings of French artist Claire Lono who currently lives in Auroville, Pondicherry, have a meditative quality to them as she depicts her own transformative, spiritual journey in calming hues of sky blues and sea greens. She uses her work to introspect on life and how she embraced simplicity in Auroville. In ‘Passages’, she uses the moon as a symbol of the spiritual journey. In yet another painting ‘The call of the divine flute player’, she doesn’t figuratively represent Krishna or the flute but focuses on the atmospherics of the musical call.
Swim by Smita Gupta
Smita Gupta’s flowy textures are a result of she allowing the fluidity of the colours (alcohol ink on paper) guide her as she paints: “My work is never pre-planned,” she says. The feminine form, the earth and Krishna emerge from this fluid merging of one colour and pattern into another.(‘Through the Looking Glass: New Voices in Contemporary Art’ is on view at Kalakriti, Hyderabad till November 8, and on www.kalakritiartgallery.com)