From: 31st January to 6th February 2022
“Forms of Musing”
An Exhibition of Paintings
By Sharmila Gupta
Jehangir Art Gallery
161-B, M.G. Road, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai – 400 001
Timing: 11am to 7pm
Contact: 98198 67766
At first glance, the bold patterns in Sharmila Gupta’s recent paintings and drawings appear to mark a change in direction from the large gritty paintings of tidal pools that were her last body of work. On further viewing, it becomes apparent that her familiar landscapes have become compressed into signs or ideograms. These perhaps reflect time spent in walks in the woods during the lockdown when she made a study of aboriginal bark as well as the abstract lineage of modernism. Sharmila’s new paintings light up the exhibition space. She moves easily between representational and abstract imagery, and she mixes seemingly contradictory inclinations. For example, her process is messy and engaged, but her compositions are deliberate and playful; her work shifts suddenly from somber to slapstick; she has a sincere belief in painting’s transcendent power.
The intimate, explorative body of work exposes her complex interaction with a particular place and it’s shifting transient nature. Sharmila has often spoken about rejecting the picturesque in favour of primordial nature as represented. She has found these necessary elemental motifs. At the edge of water and land, she has become immersed in the visceral experience of light, space and motion. There she has sought to bridge the atmospheric, volumetric world of matter and its equivalence in signs. Landscape thus becomes an arena not only to view the fleeting nature of the elements with its seasonal and biological cycles but also a vessel for thought and process within the context of various pictorial languages.
Sharmila makes paintings to be reckoned with. Her largely abstract canvases and wild seaside landscapes can be broody, even confrontational, in earthy dark tones. But many of these paintings sparkle with brilliant blues, and cheery greens, reds, and yellows. Darker colors crop up and provide terrific contrast. Sharmila completed her part-time course in painting from Sir J J School of Art and since then she has continually challenged herself, grappling with form in oils water-colours and collages; with space and surface in abstract painting and art history. One thing has remained constant her delight in the elemental quality of paint. She’s like a kid with finger paints, or making mud pies. She fills her canvases with smears, dollops, and grit. Her passion can’t be missed.
In her current suite of works some of her former complex spatial panoramas with their diverse vantage points and horizon lines remain. Sharmila, however, has often changed her viewing perspective. At times, she has vicariously crawled along the surface of the earth or seen things as a fish traversing water or as a bird from above or a combination of different vantage points in the same painting, a vertical panoramic space is grounded by two trees uniting land, fire, water and sky seen both from above and at the horizon. By contrast, Sharmila Gupta reveals a flatter, condensed spatial world of water patterns containing floating interactive shapes. Viewed from above, a brown form hovers over incoming and outgoing tides acting as a magnifying glass revealing particles of pollution. This pivotal form compresses the action of nature and shield shapes reminiscent of the mapping of water trails found in aboriginal painting.
Sign language becomes even more evident in small watercolor drawings that evoke musical exercises with their motifs and recapitulations of the ebb and flow of tides: times of day amidst floating objects pulled by currents. Sharmila has stated that all her abbreviations of shapes and forms come from acute observation of particular sites. Her drawings reflect these observations of a sea world with undulating patterns, horizontal and vertical lines that act as cross currents creating pulsating tensions. Sharmila subverts our expectations of space. Despite the horizon line, we appear to have a bird’s-eye view. The piece’s crackling rhythm, intoxicating tones, and the artist’s loose, playful hand make the works a joyful exclamation. These dense, expansive little nature-scapes gleam like gemstones.
Sharmila’s quest to reassemble pictorial language from a diverse painting vocabulary is no easy task. Throughout her long career she has searched for ways to meld the painterly traditions of Abstract Expressionism. Over the past decades she has been moving back and forth between both pictorial concepts, sometimes emphasizing her love of light and expressive painterly forms, other times using abbreviated signs, and sometimes managing to simultaneously employ both modes. In her painting series, she combined ideograms, patterns that interact with volumetric shapes and atmospheric moods. The exhibition shows a good introduction to her innovative merging of the physical tactile world with a formal language of signs, ideograms and pictographs, expanding the painter’s language in this time.
January 2022, Mumbai
Myself, Sharmila Gupta, an abstract painter. My artwork includes oil on canvas, acrylic on canvas and paper.
Passionate about painting I create whatever I perceive after observing the environment around me. I interprete the cosmos of colour and form through my visualisation to express them uniquely.
Perseverance and expedition has shifted the quality of my works and opened a new realm of possibilities and offered me with a different context of painting and my relationship to it’s process.
Sharmila Gupta – Artist
Forms of Musing – An Exhibition of Paintings By artist Sharmila Gupta in Jehangir Art Gallery