India Habitat Centre in association with the University of Kent organized a two day workshop on ‘Contemporary Visual Arts Writing & Criticism’—conceived by Dr Alka Pande, India’s preeminent art critic; lead by Dr Grant Pooke, FRSA; and curated by Angus Pryor, Director, School of Arts, Medway.
As an assignment for the seminar, I wrote the following note about Aya Mouri, one of the artists featured in the accompanying exhibition ‘Critical Narratives in Colour and Form:’
I wrote this introduction for the debut exhibition of Ritu Mehra.
All creative journeys begin with an exploration of the self and the surrounding. The artist perceives the given anew, with a childlike fancy and a discoverer’s enquiry. When unbridled by blinds of social conditioning, the neighbourhood becomes a treasure of inspiration. Realizing such a level of awareness can be rewarding as well as overwhelming. Patiently following a method through the magical madness, Ritu has emerged along this path.
Ritu Mehra has evolved a tool to plot her imagination. She gives herself a variable surface akin to a sandy riverbed or a mossy growth and improvises thereon adding elements and responding to nothing but the demands of her canvas. Her subjects take shape with softness of stanzas extracted from a poem, unscathed by the pangs of anxiety that the artist endures through the process. Like an adventurous alchemist she let’s varying ingredients simmer and become a whole represented in unified and often muted colours. Preoccupied in this lab within herself she delineates the brewing interactions of muses and mediums.
Her engineering mind takes off from a fresh frame of reference every time and playfully indulges in all that could apparate on her canvas and take it anywhere. Where this approach will go from here, there doesn’t seem to be a limit.
I wrote this introduction for an exhibition of paintings by Vikram Nayak:
Search for a key to understand Vikram’s works leads me into the labyrinthine realm of creative activity. I am met with a multitude of realizations that pose as many questions. The scene becomes as intricate as the paintings themselves. The laboriously rendered layers create an impression of infinite depth and flaunt artist’s incisive vision, dexterity, and patience. Each canvas suggests that there is more to it. Its gravity keeps drawing the artist deeper. This relation is saved from becoming a black hole because he always manages to bungee out into the tangible world.
Vikram engages with life as an active participant; as a performing artist, an activist, and above all as any other social animal. He is willing to go beyond the known limits of his self, never denying any possibilities. There is a scope for risk even in his most carefully planned strokes. It occurs as an element of red in many of his works, representing youthful vigour and fearlessness that contains the power to change everything—for better or for worse. It is this inquisitiveness that helps him perceive his environment and render it anew on his canvas. And he does it with such lucidity as if life was so easy to understand and articulate.
Such a creative process happens within the permeable periphery of self and the artist becomes the subject as well as the object. Mindfulness enables the artist. The degree of self-realization determines the quality which makes art and distinguishes it as valuable. It takes perseverance and discipline –the traits that have put Vikram in this continuum of exploration and refinement.