Using various types of graphite drawing pencils of different thickness and hardness, Mumbai-based artist Hemali Bhuta rubbed them on different kinds of sandpaper, to create numerous shades in nine frames, which is on display at Exhibit 320. This was her attempt at exploring what goes under the ground and our shared relationship with what lies beneath our feet. “I am trying to understand different structures and the friction existing between them, that is equivalent to a dialogue. Are we aware of our geology and the relationship we share with it? Graphite is a kind of coal. What is coal then, how is it formed, and how do these relationships exist, are the questions I have tried to explore through this artwork,” she says.
The show “Unearth – Matter|Time| Process” with five artists, including Arun KS, Astha Butail, Manisha Parekh and Gunjan Kumar, is an exploration of the earth’s geology, viewed through an artistic lens, taking liberties with scientific explanations. “I have been researching on the subject for a year. The starting point lies in how we look at conventional space, be it with our attempts to make man land on the moon or on Mars. It got me thinking about how we look at our planet and how little we know about it. I wondered if artistic practices can lend an intuitive understanding of science,” says curator Kanika Anand.
Artist Manisha Parekh’s ‘Earth’ series, with paper pulp and pigment, is a reminder of the vast, infinite cosmic space. Clouds of deep blue and black rule one frame, while browns lend it an earthy flavour in another. “They appear secretive,” says Anand, to which Parekh adds, “It looks like a circus of the earth, as space and as soil.” Scars, another work by Parekh, made using handmade paper on flat board, has scarred surfaces, cut at multiple spots, almost reminiscent of a fleshed out or tortured surface. “Scars are made on earth, just like they are on the body. Environmental hazards are one of the scars on the surface of the earth,” says Delhi-based Parekh.
Referring to time and history, Kerala-based artist Arun has created colourful interpretations on concrete bricks, by combining coloured powder, watercolour and ink on paper pulp, with pages from the Bible. “He is looking at different layers of erosion, when things get mixed. He ponders over how history is told, as we read so much about it through books.There are many stories that we don’t get hold of and he has delved deeper into what that represents,” says Anand.