Absolutely abstract

In last few months a number of shows ' solo as well as group - of abstractionists from India have been held in last couple of months. The most prominent among them was a unique collection of abstract art works from the Indian subcontinent, featuring master pieces by some established as well as amateur artists that was hosted at the 'Intex, Colors on Canvas' gallery, Dubai in November 2004.

Abstract art involves artwork that is not an accurate representation of a form or object. The artist either simplifies or exaggerates it in many ways - the shape, color, and form. Abstract art promises freedom of expression. Color and form can express feelings or states of consciousness that are personal and not necessarily 'realistic'.

Many of India's prominent painters are a part of this group. Some of the finest examples of abstract work in modern times are the works of artist S H Raza, Jeram Patel's abstracts are a strong gestural statement with expressionistic overtones. Among the abstractionists from India, the works by Laxman Shreshtha have a strong appeal. Artists like Sujata Bajaj use symbolic script and calligraphic lettering in their artwork and these revive a symbolic role to the work.

The abstract art exhibition was an opportunity for artists to discover own vocabulary of form, symbol and color, as well as new techniques to express an inner vision. Akkitam Narayanan, Brinda Miller, Ganesh Haloi, Gopal Adivrekar, Gopi Gajwani, Jaideep Mehrotra, Adimoolam, Krishnamachari Bose, Laxman Shreshtha, Prabhakar Kolte, S. H. Raza, Sujata Bajaj, Sunil Gawde, Surya Prakash, Vishnu Sonavane, and Yusuf Arakkal were among the artists represented.

Payal Khandwala back from N.Y. is another dynamic young artist who has already made her mark in the Indian art world. Her works of oil on canvas have an inner glow, and she works with vibrant colors and warm earth tones. She recently exhibited black-and-white line drawings at the Museum Art Gallery, Mumbai. According to her, lines are the seed of any abstract work. As she put it, in a non-figurative frame, they form the building blocks for subsequent abstraction. The line is perhaps the most integral component of form and structure. It is this framework with which the artist visualizes drawing, sculpture or painting.

Abstract artists like Ravi Mandlik achieve interesting variations of textures by using the brush, roller etc., in combination. His paintings promote unusual subtleties and keep a balance between strength, texture and depth of form. He works both on paper and canvas using multiple media. On other hand, Sunil Gawde's working methods share as much with craft as with the fine arts.

Gopi Gajwani is another artist who has made a mark as a pronouncedly abstract painter over the years and as a superb craftsman excelling in impeccably defined contoured shapes and forms. He describes his work as "melody in abstraction". A Delhi based artist with a passion for Abstract painting, his favorite medium is Oil on Canvas though he has done work in various media like watercolor, Chinese ink and acrylic. Gajwani aims at imaginative reaches of color. The work falls into the international category or abstract expressionism.

Ganesh Haloi's abstracts were on view at Gallery 88 last month. This abstractionist's canvases stand out for their austerity with which he depicts a submerged history. A resident of East Bengal at birth, Haloi shifted to Calcutta in 1950 during partition. His obsession with disturbed nostalgia reflects in his paintings, as he depicts faint traces of fields, trees, and green scapes. Haloi is known for his abstract renderings of landscapes. Dots, dashes, lines became cryptic signs for trees, water, green fields.

Chennai-based artist Achuthan Kudallur has been painting abstract works for well over two decades. He started as a figurative painter. Then he would think of the pictorial possibilities of what he read. He found the process of painting figurative works monotonous and formulaic; so he began moving away from figurative work. When he shifted from figurative works to abstract ones, he was not sure of the possibilities in non-figurative painting. It was an uncharted course in terms of space and color.

On other hand, Laxman Shreshtha's abstract works are both, sensuous and meditative in their shifts and balances of color. One can observe a palpable movement from chaos to spiritual peace, in his work. Shreshtha's canvases are an intermingling of vivid browns, yellows, reds, oranges and blues. These capture and emote passions dramatically, whether these passions are brooding, fierce or cheerful.

Irrespective of their media, symbols and color, these artists have produced quality abstract works that allow for a more expansive and intuitive play of creativity.

Ravi Mandlik Achuthan Kudallur Gamesh Haloi Gopi Gajwani Laxman Shreshtha

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