17 Apr 2008

Abstraction

Have you stood before an abstract work of art and wondered what it was? Well, you’re not alone. Most of us have trouble understanding a non-representational or a non-figurative painting - in other words a painting that has no recognizable form or objects. Going back in time, abstract expressionism developed as a result of a movement that began in the late 1940s and picked up momentum during the 1950s. You might be familiar with artist Jackson Pollock’s experiment with a dripping can of paint and a canvas placed on the floor. Pollock swung his arms around over the canvas and this process called action painting resulted in an abstract work. The idea was that these intuitive movements gave expression to an artist’s creativity at the sub-conscious level.


To understand an abstract art that is completely non-specific, sometimes, it needs to be placed in context - the artist’s life, background and environment help to relate to the artwork. A good abstract art should visually draw the viewer and have an impact on him. I bought a couple of paintings from Hariraam, an artist from Chennai (his abstracts that explore the concept of time and space are amazing), and what he said makes perfect sense, “to understand abstraction you need to put in a certain amount of effort. What you need is sensibility, and not necessarily intelligence. Remember, a work of art is not a piece of wizardry. An artist creates by virtue of his own inner process and then offers it to the viewer.” Some of the well-known Indian artists celebrated for their abstracts are VS Gaitonde, J Swaminathan, V Vishwanadhan and Prabhakar Kolte.


Adimoolam
Now, Sheetal Gattani, an artist from Mumbai is exhibiting her recent abstracts in Bangalore and her minimal palette is a delight to watch. Watercolors and acrylics on paper and canvas respectively have been layered extensively to create these non-representational paintings. Devoid of any form and identifiable elements her abstracts are minimal in all aspects. She explains, “I seek to paint without any past conditioning. I’d like the viewer to experience the same… To me it’s important to paint without a mind, just responding to the medium, light and space, the unity of it all. I enjoy the labour, the deepening and unfolding of layers.” Perhaps that best explains her paintings that otherwise defy categorization or justification.


Sheetal Gattani
(The exhibition will be on till April 25 at Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore 27.)

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

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