Sunday, November 25, 2012

‘Seraphim’ at Grosvenor Gallery, London

Grosvenor Gallery presents a new exhibition of works by Angeli Sowani, entitled ‘Seraphim’. It’s incidentally her third solo show with the London-based gallery, following ‘Vaahan’ in 2010 and ‘Inner Weaves’ in 2007.

Born in 1959 in New Delhi, trained as an illustrator and graphic designer at the prestigious National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, the talented artist has travelled extensively, living and working in Nepal, Thailand, Hong Kong and England, each place presenting her with new sources of inspiration, whether it is the Buddhist imagery and use of gold leaf in Thailand or the votive papers burnt in offering to the Gods in Hong Kong.

Angeli Sowani has had several solo exhibitions in Hong Kong’s Rotunda Gallery, Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery and at London’s King’s Road Gallery and Grosvenor-Vadehra Gallery. She has participated in over 20 group exhibitions in several countries, including The 50th Anniversary of Independence show in Hong Kong, The London Art Fair and The Art for God’s Sake exhibition in New Delhi’s Habitat Centre. Her work commands a loyal following with her paintings held in private and corporate collections around the world.

She first started experimenting with a blowtorch after the 2003 Mumbai bombings, playing with the shapes and patterns created on the scorched canvas. Explaining the process, “Even in destruction there was fresh creation as shapes of birds, flames and whirls emerged, cut from the burnt canvas. The vulnerable material seemed a fitting metaphor for the fragility of life.”

In this new show, a press release states, the artist continues her exploration of the duality of fire’s creative and destructive power focused on in her previous shows ‘Vaahan’ and ‘Inner Weaves’, pushing it further still. She also introduces a new figure, that of the seraph (literally ‘burning one’) traditionally an angelic being of the highest order in Christian angelology associated with light, ardor, and purity.

Yet there is a sense of darkness in her works, particularly in the series titled ‘Within’ where burnt canvases are layered upon each other, and in her Waterscapes with its use of thick black paint obscuring and covering the canvas surface.

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