Canvassing Changehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/canvassing-change/

Canvassing Change

Abstract art drops its intellectual cloak with four important shows in the Capital.

It’s a busy time for art connoisseurs who are spoilt for choice. This season,contemplative art that does not tell a story in narrative fashion seems to be the trend. The Capital is currently playing host to four exhibitions by abstract artists and it can’t be a mere coincidence. It indicates the changing taste of art enthusiasts,who once dismissed the abstract genre as vague or too intellectual for easy enjoyment.

If Gallery Espace is hosting a three-person show,titled “Abstract Articulations”,featuring the works of Manish Nai,Sheetal Gattani and Yashwant Deshmukh,the reclusive Paris-based abstract artist Rajendra Dhawan has a solo at Threshold Art Gallery. At Seven Art Limited,New York-based Amina Ahmad’s sublime minimalist geometric works are on display and another visitor from Paris,the flamboyant Sujata Bajaj,is showcasing her vibrant mixed-media canvases at Art Alive Gallery.

“Abstraction is moving beyond canvases to engage in new and exciting media,which is why there are many new collectors and viewers interested in our art,” says Nai. His recent canvases are created out of an intricate,yet minimalist tapestry of jute threads. He is also displaying a three-dimensional sculpture made from crumpled cardboard boxes fused with water and glue. “My work is process-based. Anyone who sees it with interest would want to visit my studio,” adds the artist,whose works are priced between Rs 6.5 to 3 lakh. He was commissioned to paint a mural at the Devi Art Foundation,owned by Anupam Poddar.

Abstract art has other takers too. Critic-collector Diana Campbell also appreciates Nai’s work. “I like his wall murals that appear three-dimensional but are actually flat. They play with your senses,” she says. “Another young artist whose work I like is Hemali Bhuta,whose drawings and installation are minimal yet evocative. After Raza’s generation there is a new crop of young artists who have taken abstraction to another level,” adds Campbell.

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Mumbai-based Gattani rubbishes the cliche that abstraction is only for intellectuals. “My art is more about the senses and the access to it is not instant. It does not tell a story or answer questions like,“What is this?”. However,it will reward a patient viewer,” says Gattani,who has also ventured into sculptural works,apart from painting her usual colour-field canvases. Gallery Espace has her white box-like structures made from canvases and punctured by glowing LED lights that form grids along the white surface of the box. The city has been her muse for this suite.

Deshmukh,who has embarked on a series of minimalist canvases with a sword as the protagonist,thinks that the “less is more” fixation is leading people toward abstraction. “I have noticed this trend in furniture and interior design as well. People prefer clean lines and want to remove the clutter from their life,” says Deshmukh. He is quick to clarify that his visual contemplations of the sword are symbolic and not linked to violence.

Ahmad’s works are executed in a meditative mood and her minimalist aesthetic ensures that the viewer is refreshed. The solo titled “Bism” comprises works that are sculptural and installation-based. There are geometric renditions of flower forms and leaves; large-format charcoal drawing on paper rolls that emulate roots and the febrile body of carbon paper,upon which the artist has made ‘marks’ for over six months. “I’ve framed the works in different ways that not only allow the viewer to interact with them in their raw format,but also in a way they can be preserved,” says the artist.

Dhawan believes that the journey of an abstract artist is a slow one,“Colour palettes change according to requirement. I need to contemplate this for a while,it takes time and often people get impatient with this,” he says. “People react to things in a way because they are used to being spoon-fed,” he adds.