Fusion: Sikkim merges with Buddhist spirituality in Anki Khurana’s canvas

January 30th, 2009 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

SensexNew Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) Buddhism and art blend harmoniously in Anki Khurana’s large-format canvases, featuring a melange of landscapes, figures, expressionism, complex surface textures, spatial variations and vivid colours.Her show titled “The Alchemy of Transformation”, at the Triveni Kala Sangam in the capital, encapsulates her search for a higher spirituality that rises beyond mere aesthetics through 50-odd canvases and stone sculptures.

It can be best termed a pilgrim’s progress through the countless Buddhist monasteries and postcard locales that dot the north-eastern Himalayan state of Sikkim - Anki’s home.

Anki’s journey as an artist and as a student of Buddhism began when she met her guru Ringu Tulku Rimpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist and master of the Kagyu order, curator Ebrahim Alkazi, the director of Delhi-based Art Heritage, told IANS.

“She travelled with him and learnt to identify directly with the landscape. She explored it with her eye and translated it into her art,” Alkazi said.

Nature finds its way not only into her art, but on her camera lens as well; and according to Alkazi, in the “intricate” garden landscaping at her home in the capital.

Khurana is the managing director of Karma Lakelands, a company that develops a unique eco-responsible gated community of villas in Gurgaon. She also owns an interior design-cum-landscaping firm.

Two of her frames in acrylic colours - divided into narrow invisible panels - on 60X70 inches canvas surfaces - titled “Nature’s Golden Glow” and “Horizon” - stand out for their use of colours and details that give a hint of distance, far and near. While “Nature’s Golden Glow” makes use of golden, brown, shades of yellow and ochre and patches of dark leafy green to convey the mellow autumn, the landscaping occurs through the natural flow of colours.

They drip, splash, flow in straight lines and form dots to show the early winter hills.

“The canvases and the rock sculptures reflect her complete way of looking at life that fuses with the poetry and the music she has used. True to the Buddhist ethos, the works have a meditative quality and a detachment that helps her comprehend life from outside, objectively,” Alkazi said.

As the artist admits in a book compiled by art historian Geeti Sen, that accompanied her exhibition, “the enthralling circle of life and death, the spell-binding landscapes, exquisite flowers, the crumbling bark of a tree in its death throes - such stimuli from nature are what I put to use when working on my canvases”.

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From Vedas to videos

“Two Birds”, an exhibition of concept and digital art at the Open Palm Court Gallery by US-based Siri Devi Khandavilli, draws from the Mundaka Upanishad. It’s a pictorial tale of two mediums - new age video art and representative expressionism, that often tend to border on abstraction. Siri, daughter of Kannada filmmaker N. Lakshmi Narayan, has trained in the Mysore tradition, but migrated to the US 10 years ago where she learnt to use cutting edge mediums like video.

The diverse training and influences reflect in her art, which fuses tribal motifs, the tantrik bindu with dense concentric surface textures in bright colours. A large 60-second video art of a clock titled “Watch” presents a biological clock that presents the mind-body dichotomy. “I use my own body, image and experiences and performances as materials of my works as naturally as a fellow male artist might use his own body,” Siri said.

Her works are mostly in series that flow in a kind of continuity, almost like a film narrative. “Sensex and Sunset”- a series of 20 canvases compares the rise and fall of the global stock markers over the last few years to the hills of Arizona, her home, on a cosmic canvas of vivid scarlet, yellow and black.

“This work originated in one of my many drives amid the beautiful Ahwatukee mountains in Arizona, where I live. During one of these drives, I listened to the financial news on the radio and the silhouettes of the mountains looked similar. I was also worried about my personal finances,” Siri told IANS.

Another series - “Green Gold and Global Temperature Anomaly” - is a comment on the contemporary global concerns like environment, climate, materialism and life in a big abstract picture.

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Calendar litany

“Calendar Art: The Indian Calendar Art with a Contemporary Twist”, a collaborative exhibition presented by the Apparao Galleries and Red Earth at the Triveni Garden Space in the capital, helps get the popular and eclectic genre of calendar art a slot in the mainstream visual canvas.

Featuring 12 artists and curated by Himanshu Varma, the exhibition divides the frames into religious calendars, patriotic calendars and landscape calendars.

Religion rules - but not in its orthodox avatar. Hanuman, the god of war, is a peppy bespectacled 40 something with two “devis” - hoisted on each shoulder. He skips along the lake shores of Lanka.

Mahasaraswati, a rather Andy Warhol-type goddess, plays her veena, in her staid black glasses (specs) that perch on the nose abroad a lotus on a lake. She cuts a wizened figure having lost her “clarity” of eyesight to the tomes that she has spent eternities reading.

Vishnu is Barack Obama in disguise. Clad in a white two piece and a yellow bowler’s hat, he is every inch of the nattily dressed yankee holding aloft the US flag, greenbacks, Indian gold coins and a lotus in each of his four hands. He stands on a lotus too in a lake. The frames make use of conventional photographs, digital embellishments and bright water colours - true to the calendar style.

Red Earth has more in store. An exhibition titled “The Blue Walls” by Farhan Mujib to mark Holi and Id in March and another one by the duo Thukral & Tagra on the pseudo-baroque homes in Gurgaon - a quirky tale of decorative development in Modern India.

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