Abstract artist captures urban landscape, promotes green cause

May 15th, 2008 - 4:36 pm ICT by admin  

By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) Leading abstractionist Sanjeev Varma’s works promote the green cause, drawing inspiration from simple things like stray dogs longing for affection and the first raindrops. His show “Little Does Matter”, a spread of 37 canvases done in oil and tackled with a riot of “unadulterated” colour, comes at a time when art as an object of mass appeal is promoting a variety of causes in India.

Heightened awareness about ecology, conservation and snapshots of the urban landscape are the themes of the show that opened May 12 at the Visual Arts Gallery of India Habitat Centre in New Delhi and closes Saturday.

“We give big importance to big things, not realising that art is meant to portray life at its ubiquitous best, in its most ordinary form. Real art is a mirror that shows you your own self,” says Varma.

He is inspired by simple things like watching street urchins with running noses licking their candy floss, stray dogs longing for affection, the first raindrops and the early morning chirping of birds.

“These things move me and compel me to talk about them in the only language I know - the language of art,” he says. He uses single shades in rich and vivid tones, which make his frames striking.

Green rules Varma’s colour palette. Canvases like “Beginning of the End” and “Little Does Matter 9 A (the serial number)” use green and sunshine yellow against a blue sky to paint meadows.

Vast tracts of woods and bushes painted with random brushstrokes speak of the author’s eco-concerns and the desire to regenerate the dying natural landscape.

“If I don’t show you green for a month, you will die. Can you imagine any place without green and blue? Even the Arctic Circle, which is devoid of green, has a lot of blue to nurture life. I think Norway is the only place I know of which is dominated by white and grey. They contribute to the sluggish pace of life in the country.”

Verma’s choice of green as the reigning colour on his canvas is not deliberate. “It is just that I am evolving and the colours are changing. I am picking up influences subconsciously; climate change was playing on my mind. But I have worked with green before.”

Vast expanses of red, blue and ochre with minute etchings of everyday things like tangled overhead wires, lamp posts with their live ends hanging, rainwater dripping down the walls and the shadowy outlines of the high rises also convey the bleakness of urban isolation and the wistful longing to belong.

At the same time, the dense drawings, woven closely like a mesh, hint at the clutter, grime, garbage and the ruthless disregard for the surrounding environment that make up the big city blues. “Men at Work” and “Urban Silhouettes” in shades of grey, moss, patches of white and black are dark and deep while “A Terrace Garden” and “Not Trying Too Hard” in bright colours have a frivolous quality to them. Varma’s works reflect the duality of the urban landscape.

Curator Elizabeth Rodgers says Varma’s colours represent the natural elements. “The blue conveys ice, the sky, sea, cold, sadness, rain and storms. His paintings ponder the frontiers of environment and are slightly ironic in their consideration of a contemporary world where there are too many people, too much materialism, too much pollution and too much poverty,” she said.

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