The intensity of the drawings by Aji V.N. arises from his concentrated compositions, and also from the shades he applies with the precision of a miniaturist, despite the large format. This paradoxical combination of scale and nuance evokes the idea of luxurious refinement.
A recent solo show of works by him at Stedelijk Museum Schiedam included a vast selection, with several of his new drawings and works on loan from the Netherlands and India.
For example, landscapes from various continents converged in them. Occasionally a Dutch scene was visible, with straight rows of poplars, and then again we could see the luxurious green of coco palms, banana plants and cashew nut trees, characteristic of the landscape of his youth. But even more frequently there was an imaginary world.
The earliest-shown work dated from 2004 and could be a self-portrait. On the paper we see a fragile youth, as in a dream world, up to his waist in water. Aji V.N. remarks: ‘It is a self-portrait, but not in the strict sense of the term. It is more a reproduction of an imaginary situation. The location is indeterminate, sans specific geography. The boy shown here is bathing in the water and in the light of the moon and the stars, while he has some kind of understanding with the fish. This physical experience is compacted into a world of thoughts: a philosophical image.
The drawing, dating from the early years of the artist’s time in Rotterdam, not only induces questions about our position in the universe, but also comprises specific reflections on life in various parts of the world. The artist had explained: “The River Ganges, which issues from the divinity Shiva, flows from the Himalayas through India as the sacred river. And this holy water blends with the water of the world. Regardless of whether it comes out of a tap or falls as a shower upon the earth: where water is, there is a unity with the source.”