Probing frontiers of womanhood through art

July 8th, 2008 - 2:43 pm ICT by IANS  

By Madhushree Chatterjee
New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Womanhood is like a riot of colours and each shade reflects a particular mood and a phase in life - and this is what is portrayed in the works of a Malayali artist collectively titled “Stree (Tracing 20 years)”. The art of Sajitha G. showcased at the Travancore Art Gallery in the capital July 5 to August 15 chronicles the artist’s search for femininity through her cache of works in charcoal, acrylic, oil and an installations over a span of more than two decades. The show is curated by Delhi-based art critic, writer and auction analyst Uma Nair.

According to Nair, the show is divided into six sections - each one depicting a phase of evolution in Sajitha’s life. The “Early Works” and “Charcoals” comprise her reflections on womanhood as a student at the Trivandrum College of Art, while the section “Poems of Love” is a collection of her paintings as a resident of “Cholamandal Artist Village” from 1989 to 2005, where she moved after finishing college.

“Graphics”, “Sculptures” and “Archetypes” are Sajitha’s body of mature works that explore the diverse nuances of feminine consciousness. The artist, who now lives in the capital and is associated with the Lalit Kala Studios at the Garhi artist village, has shown her works extensively in Europe and has been honoured with several international awards.

Art and femininity have shared a bond that goes back to the pre-historic era when early man etched his life and women in crude strokes on the rocky canvas of their caves and habitat trails.

According to Nair, “Stree” is the embodiment of the evolution of a woman in artistic terms and aesthetics. It is, as she describes in her introductory treatise on the show, “a coming together of works that have developed from distinct phases in the years of a certain growth of experience and expression”.

Each style in period, says Nair, differs from one medium to another in age, trajectory of artistic career and style of Sajitha’s works. However, they all have a common thread - women.

“One of the reasons, I agreed to curate the show was that Sajitha does not paint women of beauty, but of substance. And that is so important in the modern day,” Nair told IANS.

For Nair, curating an art show is an exercise that blends history and little bit of scholarly instinct. “When you curate a solo show, it requires time, insight and a little aesthetic development, which should be distinctive and unique,” Nair said.

According to her, it was easy to curate Sajitha’s show because of two reasons - one, she was one of the few saleable artists who kept her old body of works unlike several others who had sold most of their works; and two, the rich exposure to solo shows that Nair had as a writer and auction analyst over the last 20 years.

The curator named it “Stree” because the word is poetic and is a bit historic in today’s context.

Nair cites a line from a poem that she composed for the show to sum up its essence - “my body, ripe for questions, ripe for races; in my sadness, an actor with an audience; yet in darkness, my soul dances, filters melancholy, I am Stree….”

It took Nair a week to put the show together. “I sat with almost 10,000 of her works and culled the frames. And I knew right away that it had to be done in phases as a evolution process,” she said.

One of the reasons why Sajitha stands out from the rest of her fraternity in Kerala is because she yearns to find herself (as a woman) through every inch of space in artistic domains, while her peers remain busy documenting the southern state’s morphing socio-political landscape on their canvases.

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