Thursday, February 7, 2013

‘Varsha’, an artist’s book by Ranjani Shettar

Ranjani Shettar, born in Bangalore in 1977 is known for her elegant ethereal sculptural installations. Explaining her thought process, she has said, “There’s an element of chance in the way you see the sculpture, specifically in terms of how it manages to position itself in space according to movement of air in the space.”

Her ‘Varsha’, an artist’s book courtesy the Library Council of MOMA in late 2012, evokes different aspects of 16 phases of the mesmerizing monsoon and the classical Indian astronomy used for predicting them. The accordion-folding volume includes original prints that correspond to a rainy season’s specific period. Anita Desai has contributed an essay for the project along with poetry by Rabindranath Tagore and Bhavabhūti.

An accompanying note elaborates: “The artist’s drawn, painted, and photographic representations of changing skies, new vegetation, and other effects of monsoon rains are rendered in etching, silkscreen, hand-carved woodcut, pigment printing, and laser cut. The varied images (prepared on teakwood blocks, etching plates, and paper) in the artist’s studio in rural Karnataka show a range of intensities of shadow and light, color, and texture to express the passage of diverse elemental experiences - a sky filled with darkening, premonitory clouds; a splash of gentle rain on a window; hoofprints on the ground.”

Cutout patterns of tiny spheres on all prints symbolize the constellations in the sky during the period when first the expectation and then the actual rains drive the rhythms of life. In her artistic treatment of these star clusters, she alludes to the ancient Indian star charts formed some 5,000 years ago and still widely employed in agriculture and calendars to decide the farming and religious events scheduling across the subcontinent.

Her work has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Delhi; and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; among other institutions. First Museum solo of this internationally renowned artist took place in India at Dr.Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai, late last year.

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