Residue: In Search of Lost Traces

Residue: In Search of Lost Traces


Memory is a residue of our witnessing, the times lived and the life experienced. Despite the processing and reception of abundant sensorial experiences what we retain are fragments of those images, sounds, and words. What remains in time are fragments of those memories akin to a parchment withering away slowly leaving parts of the inscription. Inspired from a chapter's title from a famous Wong Kar-wai movie (all memories are traces of tears) memories have to be conceived as traces. An incomplete drawing conjured from the residues of the past.

The process of drawing, like memories involves leaving traces and marks. Residues of the medium whether pencil, ink, charcoal, etc. mark the surface, sometimes incise it sharply, etching them lightly or harder, depending on the intensity. Like the seminal scholar-philosopher Alain Badiou has observed a drawing is a complex of marks. It exists with these marks, traces, and lines. The paper exists as its material support. This exhibition wanted to explore the formal possibilities of drawing, the act of leaving traces, and thematically connect it with memory as an outcome of the residual accumulation of our experiences. Interestingly, in this exhibition there are works which could not be conventionally placed in the formal genre of drawing but they do explore the conventions of drawings in different mediums. Furthermore, they easily blend in with the conceptual strategy of this exhibition. The artists included in this exhibition are grouped together for their engagement with drawing formally and conceptually.

Anindita Chakrabortys drawings

Untitled 1, Niyeti Chadha, Pen & Gouache on Paper, 2016

Anindita Chakraborty's watercolour based drawings reconstruct found dead objects. Her delicate strokes and the fragility of these images remind us of the lightness of memory but the heavy burden it casts in our lives. Through drawing these images Anindita attempts to make them alive through the gentleness of lines and contours. She remarks that through making them alive she strives to freeze the memories associated with these objects. Objects such as shell, feather, jewellery, strands of hair, fragile leaf, etc. draw our attention towards the lightness of their existence. Through the subtle traces, she brilliantly showcases the fragmented nature of memory. Anindita's drawings perform the function of remembrance effectively through its soft rendition of objects. It strikes a nostalgic cord. Such similar function of drawings to evoke historic memory and trauma is also visible in Sajeev Visweswaran's work. The realism of Sajeev's drawings accomplishes an archival role. His thin and sharp lines incise the surface. His drawings maintain an aesthetic restraint characterised by measured etchings on the surface, the depiction of the mundane activities, still life and interiors meditate on the ideas of presence and absence, spaces of domesticity with an astute political sensibility. Instead of camera Sajeev documents our world through his pen and watercolour. Moving away from his characteristic interiority, the works in this exhibition mediate on the collective violence and resistance. Sajeev's engagement with holocaust and the archival images of concentration camps and trains which were used to transfer Jews has been the influence behind his work Shaved, Tattooed, Numbered II". Instead of relying on realism as a trope Sajeev resorts towards a surreal strategy to handle unstable places and violent times. Here the historic space, time and events fuse together in a dream like landscape with a small fire kindled, denoted by the fiery orange patch, flaming to devour. Also interesting is the presence of grids in the "Movement" series, which is self referential about the process of drawing. By leaving them intact Sajeev draws our attention to the history of this form.

Anindita Chakraborty Watercolour

Muse Series 2, Anindita Chakraborty, Watercolour on Paper, 2015

Poushali's images are as evocative as their title. Her rhythmic strokes complement the beautiful title of her works. In Poushali's 'From River-Side' and 'Music and Drama' we see the fluid movement of her brush rendering life to mendicants and saints. Mysticism looms in the atmosphere. Her affinity towards mysticism started with reading a poem of Tagore. Inspired by this spiritual encounter she depicts these mystics as central characters in her works who have immersed themselves in devotional music and dance. In these works one encounters the joy of spiritual pursuit through the emotional charge of their bodies and faces and the universe around them through an absence. Nothing exists apart from these figures. She writes, This sense of interior and exterior grew in me out of these two different aspects of human self, embodying two different aspects of relationship between nature and nurture… The drawings however, maintain their special intrinsic charm with a strong linear force true to the moment of creation. Likewise, I draw inspiration from the immediate nature- the studio-window posits a passage for my imagination to reach places. Together: the figures and the organic natural forms are strong residues which keep seeping through the layers of my painting. The present collections of drawings are personal experiences and remnants from the mind, hinting at some universal human transcendence.

The stitches in Ranjith Ramans embroidery are akin to traces in drawings. Through this form Ranjith replicates the process of drawing, while leaving residue of threads inside and outside the cloth. His naturalistic, semi-abstract and abstract compositions portraying people, lush landscapes of Kerala and cityscapes, are meshed with his personal journey and memories. Memories are not only fragmented, they are also overwritten by the presence of others, that causing the erasure of some details, sometimes this layering resulting in a palimpsest. Ranjith too layers his surface with additional cloths and additional stitches, Some works are planned and some are spontaneous. Each work has its own journey. I like layering fabric and layering stitch. Very similar to Poushalis spiritual affinities, Ranjith says, . Embroidering is a meditative process and a sustaining journey. I keep embroidering till the work tells me it is complete. Through these painstakingly stitched layers Ranjith exhibit the interiority of his world, the nostalgia for a distant homeland and the complexities of human emotions.

Ranjith Raman Embroidery

Untitled, Ranjith Raman, Embroidery and Patchwork on Cotton, 2015

Mekhala Bahls abstract landscapes display a cartographic quality. It seems like a map evolved into an abstract visual form. Her diverse choice of colours and shapes on paper looks akin to an aerial view of a road. A cosmos of objects, shapes and figures exist in her landscape moving away from each other, seeking their own identity. While the images scattered throughout her work (such as chairs, ice cream cones, letters) all connect back to Mekhala Bahls own environment and childhood experiences, the sheer abundance of these shapes allows the viewers to claim them and invest them with their own personal experiences. Hence, its creation is a subjective endeavour, involving the memories and emotions attached with objects and its viewing requires innocence; akin to the innocent childhood game of finding familiar shapes in the clouds.

Mekhala Bahls abstract landscapes

Bowl Slow, Mekhala Bahl, Mixed Media on Paper, 2016

Vanita Guptas characteristic monochrome abstractions in essence are part of her ongoing search to understand the tensions between space and void. These paintings are exclusively done in black colour depicting abstract forms and objects. Many have written on her excellent use of strokes, and her mastery of applying the paint. Nevertheless, Vanita restrains herself from divulging more about these works and confines her rubric in an austere gesture I believe in the ardent need to paint, nothing more nothing less. The use of black for her is a conscious choice to arrive at that definite form, to show the form she is depicting and to naturally project the height, contrast and shape of the object. Her use of bold brush strokes combined with light strokes is a conscious arrival at depicting the tensions between space and absence of space. The bold represents the space and form while the light ones represent the absence. The abstract objects which are depicted in an inventive way, owes its primary allegiance to her inner urges and imaginations, whereas the physical objects around her also play an influential role behind its execution. Her range as a skilled draftsperson of this stunning graphic series reflects her affinity to the mechanisms of psyche and an unquenchable search for originality. Painting effectively does justice to her fondness for intuition and surprise.

If we could identify these works as the romantic one which is characterized by heavy darkness, presence of black ink and violent contrasts, the works of Pooja Iranna, and Niyeti Chadha should be categorized as contemporary drawing which is more sober, more invisible. Their beautifully crafted abstract renditions of architectural spaces are an addition to this category. Their confident straight lines eventually resulting in abstract architectural shapes and blocks, strips off the surface and trim down it to its basic shape. Pooja draws these lines with colours depicting the abstraction of the tonalities of the surface. She remains grounded to her architectural themes in this show as well, exploring the possibilities with which humans have extended their creative mind. She believes that we have reached our zenith when it comes to expressing our ingenuity. There is no stone unturned as the human race has successfully managed to use their cultural as well as technical knowledge along with positive energies, to construct the unthinkable. Through these works she focuses on the ever growing cities. The structures are coming up fast and without a thought or even necessity at times. According to Niyeti in her works, the forms are simplified into an arrangement of basic elements of line, tones and planes. These images are only points of departure though. The process of construction of each space is important. The purpose is not to look for spatial strangeness but the tension between the understandable and the un-understandable, between representation and abstraction between seeing and knowing. Niyeti transforms the constantly evolving urbanscapes in to a two dimensional image; her abstract drawings emphasising on the experience associated with these spaces. Her experiments with dimensions are noteworthy as she infuses new textures and forms to these structures.

Juxtaposed Expansions abstractions

Juxtaposed Expansions 8, Pooja Iranna, Mixed Media on Acid Free Paper, 2016

Stylistically Roshans humorous drawings are inspired by the popular illustrations found in the pulp books, womans magazines, the newspaper, local signboards, etc. Thematically he is inspired by the everyday life of Indian middle- class and his observations of their situations and its aspirations. His display is mostly a clutter like arrangement of works, texts and sometimes found objects and readymades which he finds relevant. It can be on the wall or the floor, which somewhat looks like objects displayed in a flea market. His works can be viewed as pages from a personal scrapbook with drawings that spill into found and ready-make objects, sculptural and site-specific installations and then back into drawings. His works are disseminated and displayed as a visual cluster rather than as an isolated object. This assembly of material and form allows the artist to express observed and experienced dichotomies in social customs, traditions, norms and conditions with conscious naivety, irony and wit.

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