When Delhi-based artist Seema Kohli was asked by curator Tunty Chauhan to create a work reflecting her association with plants, she drew upon images of a charpai, tea pots, monkeys swinging from trees and cows feeding on plants for her 16 etchings. The works drew attention to the source of the charpai — a reed — and that tea is derived from a plant, and monkeys are hounding urban settlements due to an invasion of their green habitats. The works are displayed at Gallery Threshold in Delhi as part of a show, “Verdant Memory”.
The exhibition marks 20 years of the gallery, prompting gallerist Tunty Chauhan to bring together 20 artists, such as Atul Dodiya, Jagannath Panda, GR Iranna and Manjunath Kamath, to capture their memories, experiences and imagination about plants.
Using ink and gold dust on paper for his drawings, Iranna shows tree guards surrounding plants, as evident in many villages, and the process of grafting, among others. Iranna says, “I have tried to compare plants to human beings, as if they can smell and be as sensitive as us. If anyone cuts a tree, one can see a liquid oozing out. It appears as if the tree has skin, blood in the form of water, and bones, just like our bodies. Probably, they don’t have ears to listen or tongues to speak,but their senses are constantly working. That’s how I talk to trees. They also keep watching us, like pets.”
Gurgaon-based Panda has painted two stags locking horns against the backdrop of tall architectural marvels in Tranceland – IX. He says, “It explores the change of landscape when we have taken over their space. This landscape, where animals used to stay, has been changing to an urban one. These animals are territorial but they have an absence of territory these days. I play around with this dichotomy in many of my works.”
Dodiya’s untitled paintings show a man lazily sleeping beneath a lush green tree and another gazing at a tall tree laden with fruit. Chauhan says, “Each one of us can recall the memory of having rested under a tree. The moment we think of plants, there is a certain feeling of coolness and calm that comes automatically.”
There is No Turning Back, Gargi Raina’s mixed media on paper, draws upon her childhood fondness for the Raat Ki Rani flower. She paints it in white, followed by an image of a magnolia flower to reflect on love and romance during her older years. Another image is of a weed that piqued her interest during her teenage.Visakhapatnam-based V Ramesh’s Offering, shows a bunch of jasmine wrapped in banana leaves. The painting serves as an apt exit to the show as it alludes to the artist’s southern roots and recalls how the fragrant flowers are delivered to homes in the morning for women to decorate their hair or use for prayers.
The exhibition is on at C 221, Sarvodaya Enclave, till March 2
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