Amid a hushed audience in Bikaner House on Monday evening, images — of what seemed like dreamscapes, at one point, with convoluted figures, aptly titled “Freud/Jung” series, streaming in an out at another — flashed past the viewers’ line of sight. A series of untitled abstract landscapes, a result of a deliberate process, held the attendees in a spell, while the “Fractral” series, with ornate patterns awash in pastel shades on linen, propelled the eye into a deeper trance. In front of the slides was Anil
Revri, 61, as he introduced his work to a compact audience. Revri, a Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai, and Corcoran College of Art + Design, Washington, alumnus, is a man of few words. Instead, he lets his four decades of artwork speak. Marrying intricate usage of symbols, strips and dots, with the tantric chakras and other spiritual motifs, Revri’s language conjures up illusions, complete with harmony and balance. He began his artistic career in 1976, after graduating from Sir JJ School of Art, and shuttled between Europe and India, before moving to Washington DC in 1982. His style, hence, borrows from Western art history, formal education and the art training at home. “In those days, there weren’t so many opportunities in the commercial sense, but there was more scope for learning. I was more focused on the quieter works of, for instance, Mark Rothko, even though it was a booming period in Indian art. However, I was also influenced by
VS Gaitonde. In 1976, my work pretty much followed on his footsteps,” says Revri. The artist was also struck by a major event in his life — an accident during his college days in Mumbai, which affected his sense of smell. Much of his work is a result of what came after the impairment. “My sense of smell was acute and modern science says that smell evokes memory. So if the sense goes, so does the memory. A form of therapy to deal with this led to my style,” he says.
Three years back, Revri temporarily moved his base to Delhi, owing to the health of his father, now late journalist Inder Malhotra. “While I was here, a lot of people would ask what I’ve been doing, and I decided to hold this event as a part of reintroducing the older generation to my work, while also connecting with a younger audience,” he says. His previous exhibitions in the country include a show at the Vadehra Art Gallery in 2007 and a personal booth at the 2011 India Art Fair. “There are problems with exhibiting in India right now. The old works in India are hard to locate and getting works from the US will cost a fortune,” he says. But the session at Bikaner House, he says, could be a beginning for something. “You never know,” he says.