Child’s play: Building easy shapes in ceramics (Weekly Art Column, Rainbow Palette, With Images)

January 9th, 2009 - 1:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) Ceramics as a medium of sculpture is like a child - malleable, easy and yielding.An exhibition of contemporary architectural ceramics, “In Free Verse”, which will run at the Visual Arts Gallery at the India Habitat Centre during Jan 12-15 will showcase a large body of ingenious ceramics, stoneware and pit-fired clay sculptures by a creative trio, Leena Batra, Rekha Bajpe Aggarwal and Sonia Ramaswamy Dhingra.

The sculptures reflect diversity - each a reflection of the artist’s individuality. A sneak peek into the works at Dhingra’s tastefully furnished residence in the capital threw up nature, figures and geometry as the sources of inspiration.

While self-taught sculptor Leena, a Russian interpreter, who has made India her home for the past 40 years, moulds human expressions in pit-baked clay and ceramics without glaze, Rekha, a former advertising professional and filmmaker, plays with poetry, shapes and bowls (as a symbol of womanhood) in her sculptures.

Sonia is influenced by nature and geometric forms. Her strength is her wooden blocks with which she stamps her ceramics and fired clay motifs that are rich in tonalities and embellishments.

Leena’s human and horse heads and hands stand out for their raw finish, intensity and mobile expressions. Sonia on her part uses stoneware, glazed chips and ceramics to make natural compositions of birds, trees and flowers. Rekha uses bowls to express aspects of femininity.

“The magic of ceramics, as also its advantage over wood, bronze and metal, is that it lasts for centuries. And the colours do not fade,” Leena told IANS.

For the trio, “In Free Verse” is about breaking away from tradition by not treating pottery as a potter’s bread and butter. “We want to broaden our horizon and create compositions and textures like poetry in free verse,” Rekha said.

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Arty cloth

US-based artist Mekhala Bahl likes to toy with offbeat mediums, mostly textiles. She uses quilts, silk and canvases for her art works.

Bahl has been trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, after which she returned to India in 2003. Bahl works with glass, wood, silk, paper, plastic and quilting.

Her works take off on clothes and textiles. While her painted canvases have a cloth-like feel, the apparels, which are at times intimate and at times abstract, enter into her themes as well. She uses chine collé (a textile) in the adhering of fine silk on the backing surface of work, imbuing it with an ethereal quality.

A peek into her oeuvre shows a medley of styles - from block printing, etching, lithography to drawing, painting and sculpture. Her images read like journals recording daily life.

Her current body of 14 artworks, titled “The Geometry of Error”, which will be on display at Gallery Espace Jan 21, will include an exclusive collection of quilted works along with etchings on silk and canvas drawn from her travels and studies of everyday objects.

“The exhibition is the culmination of works created by Mekhala in the last two years. The scale ranges from small intimate images to vast canvases where she scribbles, draws and prints,” Renu Modi of Gallery Espace said.

The artist says her working style depends on the distance between the marks created on the canvas, “almost like a dot game”.

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Annual carnival at Art Mall

The Art Mall, one of the biggest private art houses in Asia, is hosting its month-long annual art festival at its Najafgarh premises. The festival, which kicked off Jan 2, will continue till Jan 31. The multi-disciplinary art show includes a workshop for painting, art exhibitions, seminars and cultural soirees in the evenings for participants.

On Jan 8, the mall inaugurated its second phase of the exhibition - where 40 artists from across the country brought two art works each from their private collections and painted fresh ones at the camp.

“The art festival has been divided into four exhibitions - featuring 40 artists in each batch. They are unsung and young, who need platforms for placements in the world of art,” director of Art Mall Naren Bikhu Ram Jain told IANS.

The guests included Ambassador of Qatar Hassan M. Rafee Al Emadi, Deputy Ambassador of Qatar Rashid Al Mulla and Ambassador of Czech Republic Hyrek Kmonicek and senior artists Kalicharan Gupta, Vijender Sharma and O.P. Sharma.

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