Artist: Tom Anholt, Ian Davis, Rabia Farooqui, Emma Fineman, Arthur Lemaitre, Radu Oreian, Hiroe Saeki and Waswo X Waswo with R.Vijay
09th September - 15th November, 2022
In mathematics, the quality or state of being between two others in an ordered mathematical set, is defined as Between-ness. In artistic expression, it is within this chasm, in this liminal space, that the most powerful imagery is created, leaving it to the viewer to construct and project their own meaning.
As the pandemic united the world in a state of suspended reality, artists are just beginning to explore the facets of this taut interregnum: the sensory deprivations of quarantine; the advance of authoritarianism; the panacea of technology; the crisis of existentialism and the spirit of activism that marked the days. For any creative, finding synchronicity in duality, is essential to their oeuvre, and the void between often opposing ideas can be considered an almost magical tipping - point.
The tension between concrete and abstract, the past and the present, origin and completion can be found throughout Tom Anholt’s work. Known for his richly figurative style, Anholt has started to embrace a more abstract perspective with his new series ‘Back Garden’. Positioned as a perfect foil to his larger narratives, these multi-layered oil paintings embrace the beauty of a wild, un-manicured garden - the flowers and plants developing their own patterns, in a messy - yet lovely - way.
A move away from reality to a more surreal state, is ongoing in Ian Davis’ eerily prescient dystopian visions. His work charts the follies of man and his compositions circle around repetition and unplanned narratives. Davis is reluctant to pigeonhole his new series - which takes its cue from photography - and instead prefers to allow for an element of ambiguity concerning his visual imagery, first setting the stage and then allowing a recurrent activity to unfold within its environs.
A symbiotic relationship with animals in their natural ecosystem is the starting point of Rabia Farooqui’s invitingly tactile work. Female bodies mimic the posture of birds - symbols of liberation even in their flightless form. The work evokes many things: the duality of the self; the unfamiliar states of placement and displacement; the suggestion of what may be said and what should be reserved; the unrequited and the reciprocated; the harmonious and the chaotic - all is possible and simply dependent on the viewer’s own unique interpretation. For Farooqui, a trained Mughal miniaturist, an exploration of the didactic tensions that exist between traditional and modern practices is an ongoing concern - both compositionally and conceptually.
The slippages and gaps we are confronted by when we attempt to perceive the space that surrounds us has become the focus for Emma Fineman’s practice. The drift between contrarian tableaus - interiors, exteriors; the nebulous nature of time during the global pandemic; the relationship between the physical, digital and spiritual realms – and their impact on our collective consciousness - have become the very foundation of Fineman’s work. Her preferred mediums of painting, sculpture and monoprint, allow for a unique time travel through memory in a manner that is almost magical.
What is imagined and what is real? Asks Arthur Lemaitre. The artist uses classical drawing and oil painting in a practice that operates at the borders of realism and surrealism, purloining from nature and employing architectural rigour. As a student in Paris, confronted with limited intimate space vis a vis the immensity of the city and the ghosts of its artistic past rubbing shoulders with the present, Lemaitre found in the in-between, a melodious resonance.
In common with Lemaitre, Radu Oreian uses techniques derived from classical drawing and painting which he combines with repetitive detailing in order to construct a figurative practice placed in dialogue with abstract imagery. His resulting creations resemble complex puzzles as the human body merges with its environment, with the landscape, with architectural elements - and even with its own inner biology. The works are suggestive of the push and pull of memory and hover at the edges of dreams as they brilliantly showcase the void that exists between the surface and what lies beneath.
Negative space is a persistent motif in Hiroe Saeki’s work as the artist returns time and again to the concern of how to express a void that can contain the past, the present and the future. Conversely, Saeki also considers how the life-cycle of a flower has become the symbol of life - underlining her conviction that the afterlife is actually part of our present. Saeki uses a special technique that creates a puddle of water on the screen. She then drips Japanese ink into this puddle, thus creating a random shape which is then juxtaposed with figurative drawn elements, their intricate details intended to represent the passing of time.
The past and the present; history and contemporary identities; and the idea of belonging are all central to Waswo X Waswo’s experience of being an American living in India. Through chemically processed sepia tones and his signature miniatures, Waswo captures the feeling of being an outsider, enhancing this perspective and raising questions about what separates the insider from the interloper. The artist poetically interprets narratives into rich and symbolic visuals with the help of the skilled traditional painter R.Vijay. The duo’s fifteen-year long collaboration blends genres and plays intelligently on themes from history and colonialism which they interweave with contemporary identities.
It is in the liminal spaces that these artists have been able to construct their parallel realities, while simultaneously challenging the viewer to interpret this visual information uniquely and differently, each according to their own viewing and experience.
Priyanka R Khanna