Sunday, November 25, 2012

‘I do not want to tell the viewer what to think.’

On eve of her new show at Grosvenor, we take a look at Angeli Sowani's career graph and her noteworthy series of works showcased at the gallery premises (November 2010).

‘Vaahan’ (meaning ‘carrier’) symbolized to her the medium through which passion and thought were brought together. By employing the medium of fire, she tried to challenge the viewer to introspect over the delicate balance of our lives and the fragility of being. The artist elaborated in her note: “I do not want my work to fit into a neat ‘slot’ or ‘style’ or to tell the viewer what to think. I prefer to push it into unexplored areas and leave it for their imagination to unravel the meaning. I have taken this thought further by using industrial paint, paper collage, religious threads, Tibetan prayer flags ... and a blowtorch.

"Watching Mumbai burning on Nov 26, 2008, was when I first took a blowtorch to canvas, each burnt mark in my mind a life lost to the ongoing violence. Ideas poured out as I explored this new medium. I started to scorch the canvas and check where the patterns would lead me and see how far I could push the material before it was destroyed.”

Even in destruction, she found, there were fresh creations as shapes of flames, whorls and birds emerged, cut from the charred canvases. The intense focus the process demanded had a calming, almost meditative effect on her. She realized how vulnerable material is when touched by fire – an apt metaphor for the fragility of the contemporary life.

On the other hand, the tragic consequence of the Tsunami, the horrific Iraq war etc – inspired her ‘Out of the Blue’ (2005). A keen sensitivity to current events is visible in recent works, including the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in November 2008, highlighting spontaneous reactions to such tragic events. Underlining the virtues of her art, writer Nigel Cameron mentions, “Her painting language is understated, implying rather than stating. This particular quality of her painting grips us with its profoundly suggestive qualities.”

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