"She" – the source of mystery

A woman depicted in various shades of emotions, her various characteristics explored and her emotions discovered. The works on view as part of the show titled aptly 'She' try to unearth the hidden passions and get intimate with the enigma of womanhood. ' strong yet frail, gentle yet resilient, compassionate yet tough, beautiful yet mysterious.

The works let the viewer a peek into a woman's mind as they try to fathom its mysteries. The works on the theme of womanhood done by several eminent artists have portrayed the woman in different forms to unravel fascinating aspects of her personality. ' She' is a salute, a tribute, a compliment, an acknowledgement of the attributes of a woman that reveal her unexplored dimensions. Indian art has already witnessed the brilliance in the handling of the female form. 'She' can be goddess, a princess, a seductress or a modern Indian woman with radical set of values.

From time immemorial, artists have been inspired by the theme. For example, Rabindranath Tagore produced some of the most introspective and intense female figures of the era. His art was immensely personalized and seemed to address the realm of the intuitive, the psychic and the unconscious. Prior to Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Ravi Varma painted scenes of ethnic figure compositions of Indian women in different regional settings and attire. A R Chughtai produced works with luscious, languid, narcissus-eyed and stylized female figures with erotic connotations. Jamini Roy worked on his early romantic studies of Santhal women.

The elaborate exhibition is a historical account of how Indian contemporary artists have portrayed women and perceived womanhood. Works by several artists of note feature in this thoughtfully put up show, including A R Almelkar, Akbar Padamsee, Arpana Caur, B Prabha, Badri Narayan, C N Karunakaran, Gogi Saroj Pal, Gurucharan Singh, Heeral Trivedi, Hemen Mazumdar, K K Hebbar, Jatin Das. Several other prominent artists whose works form part of the show are Jaysri Burman, John Fernandes, K H Ara, Kahini Arte Merchant, Lalitha Lajmi, Laxma Gaud, Laxman Aelay, M F Husain, M R Achrekar, Manjit Bawa, Paresh Maity, Paritosh Sen, Rabin Mondal, Sanat Kar, Satish Gujral, Shipra Bhattacharya, Suhas Roy, and T Vaikuntam among others.

The show is an honest attempt to compile the visual expressions inspired by the enigma of womanhood. It brings out the vision of artists and how they have gone about the theme. Eternally relevant and yet almost synonymous with 'novelty' are the women in M F Husain's works. He depicts his women with a touch of richness. On the other hand, K H Ara's simple and honest portrayal of female form hold an eternal feeling of life. Akbar Padamsee engulfs the forthcoming yet intimate nudes in a mist of eternal remoteness. The photograph reflects a dramatic interaction between light and shade and emphasizes the contours of the female body more as an interesting form. The artist portrays the female anatomy, and his women emerge instinctively from his deep concern with the aesthetic as well as sensuous connotations of the female figure.

Yet another artist whose wonderful work forms part of the show is Jatin Das. The artist 'liberates' women from the traditional standards of beauty and grace. His women are as passionate as his brush stroke. They are at ease, self-aware and confident about their individual persona. Another artist whose work draws your attention is Gogi Saroj Pal who has set herself apart with her overwhelming and dominant depiction of women. The artist often draws upon traditional myths and transforms them into her work with a contemporary relevance.

The exhibition has tried to accommodate a range of artists to get a diverse representation of the theme. So, one gets to see the work of A L Almelkar whose lines are bold and rhythmic and his depictions extremely sensitive through varied and bright color harmonies. Satish Gujral's women represent various aspects of a woman through rhythmic forms peculiar to his medium. Badri Narayan's women are ethnic representations that appear alert through gesture and suggestion in his subtle narratives.

C N Karunakaran's women reveal a fine balance between the decorative art of South East Asia and the temple scriptures of South India whereas Thota Vaikuntam's women are intensely sensual and voluptuous with a distinct rural flavor. Laxman Aelay also draws rural women. Self-portraiture remains the fulcrum of Lalitha Lajmi's art. The serene female self is represented, enunciating its need of privacies, often in a meditative stance while formulating a language in which to describe its predicament.

The works together pay tribute to the spirit of womanhood. Part of the proceeds will be donated to an NGO 'Jagruti' working towards alleviating pain of breast cancer patients . This must-watch show continues at Gallery Art and Soul Gallery, Mumbai till October 31.

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