Scanning through her set of works is akin to reading the thoughts that occupy Manisha Gera Baswani. Her solo in Delhi after a gap of six years,the exhibition Hope is the thing with Feathers,reflects the artists life from her numerous responsibilities with regard to different relationships,to her sojourns across the world. Its autobiographical. One set is my emotions while managing various responsibilities,other is my thoughts and observations while travelling, says Baswani,as she introduces the collection on display in the Capital.
Those familiar with Baswanis oeuvre are in for a surprise. There is no influence of Indian miniatures that heavily inspired the artist at one point in time. If she had once amazed the audience by painting popular Hollywood icons such as James Bond and Elvis Presley,this time she lets them into her mind. The title comes from Emily Dickinsons poem,and the starting point is all about the feathers that she collected on daily morning walks around her apartment complex in Gurgaon,immediately after she shifted base from Delhi in 2010. The move had left her uninspired and led to a short hiatus in her art practise. It was very different living in Delhi in a house overlooking a 13th century mosque and being in a modern condo, she says,looking at the work Feather Touch,which has pink feathers scattered on canvas.
The works are often sparse,with focus on a central motif. For instance,Baswanis engagement ring with knots of threads passing through is an analogy of the shahtoosh shawl with reference to the lives of women. Like shahtoosh is tested by passing through the ring,a woman has to go through the test of the ring. Then there is Day… everyday where she lists the SMSes she has to send in a day,delegating various tasks. In Pierced Comfort,a long needle pierces through a stack of pillows,portraying the frustration of being unable to fulfil her responsibilities despite multitasking. I have a pink bolster and this work is a take-off from there. It has a needle passing through it,pricking it,indicating how one is always guilty about not managing to do more in the time available, says Baswani.
The adjacent set of canvases impress with their muted tones. The use of tea water as colour seems perfect for depiction of Baswanis numerous tours across the world,from Mandu to Jaisalmer,Jerusalem and Egypt,between 2007 and 2009. It all comes from my memories,things that left an impression says Baswani,who also makes an impact with a sole sculpture in the show. Titled Corazon Rosa (Spanish for red rose) the iron armour has a rose tucked inside. Its a protective armour. Family,children and the close ones are all close to the heart,protected inside, says Baswani. In her next show,she intends to dabble with video manner. Itll be another three-four years though, she smiles.
The exhibition at Gallery Espace,New Friends Colony,is on till November 10. 26922947. Contact: 26922947
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