Eleven Jammu artists on show Mapping the Environment

Lalit Gupta
The ongoing exhibition of Jammu’s eleven visual artists is a significant happening in the post-Pandemic cultural life of Jammuites. Aptly titled ‘Mapping the Environment’, the exhibited paintings, sculptures, and outdoor installations are creative artists’ immersive reflections that reiterate the timeless aspects of nature, as well as draw attention to the parallel, transient ever-forming albeit unbridled man-made nature.
Organized by Amar Mahal Museum & Library, as part of the maiden Tawi Festival, the exhibition curated by Rajinder Tikku and Suman Gupta is open from 10 am to 5 pm, till March 6, 2023.
Soliciting an empathetic state of mind of the viewers’, the exhibited works-comprising of a repertoire of visual elements that range from representational (realistic) to semi-abstract and abstract-reveal themselves as intense narratives that stimulate an emotional intent into the viewer’s realm of imagination. The exhibited works in different media and techniques are part of the artist’s creative universe comprising his/her worldview and chosen visual language of expression.
Milan Sharma’s paintings in mixed media are intimate and emotional responses to her cherished esoteric world and beyond it. According to her, “especially female form serves as the protagonist of my interwoven visual format”. In her recent works, the choice of colors such as predominantly mauve, a combination of warm and cool, symbolizes grace, calm, and above all the serenity of the female world.
Hearing and speech-impaired Bhushan Kesar is an artist with special abilities. His works, full of energetic and gestural strokes created through drip and splatter are abstract chromatic landscapes teeming with islands of poetic silences and the riotous rumble of elements.
Kamal Nain Bhan, also a painter with special abilities, creates works that are lyrical and vibrant renderings of panoramic landscapes and seasons, places seen and imagined. His artistic process consists of a free application of color techniques like drip and blow, swap and splash, tilt, and tumble.
Rakesh Kumar’s spontaneous and gestural colorful forms lead to a distinctive painterly world within the canvas. Not contingent on any extraneous references, his ensembles have a life of their own and invite viewers to perceive, activate and halt at what the artist terms ‘as the points of contentions’. His works thus a voyage into the novel visual constructs as well as the artist’s process of visualization.
Sat Pal Deol’s paintings are poetic configurations that emerge from his constant engagement with visual references in mundane life. Contemplated through ‘layers of perceptions’, such references acquire a corporeality that ranges from the airy lightness of a symbol to the brooding somberness of metaphor.
Suman Gupta’s representational paintings are contemplations on the real and the tangible that surround us. His detailed treatment of the local landscape with self-absorbed figures, invest a kind of ethereality that ‘evokes revisitation and new recognitions, breaking the seemingly familiar with unexpected surrealism’.
Manoj Chopra’s paintings lie at the junction of art versus fact, between representation versus documentation. His canvases offer a subtle interaction between the creative and objective and are social documents of everyday human activities and environs with a photographic rendering of details.
Rajinder Tikku, the master artist-craftsman, is well known for his poetic ingenuity to select and transform an array of elements drawn from everyday objects, especially those with imprints of time and passage of rituals to create semi-abstract metaphorical sculptures. His bronze and thread sculpture on show, titled ‘Nabhaha Saparsha Diptam ‘/’Touch the Sky in Glory’, is a visionary transformation/ arrangement of materials to denote nature’s generative energy that renders a tender shoot of great frailty into a powerful resplendent tree. His perceptive colored drawings allude to the beauty of human awe and wonder while encountering the subtle forces of nature.
Ravinder Singh Jamwal’s installation in recycled material is a satire on contemporary human society captivated by its own anti-nature credo of the so-called progress and development and feeling subjugated and helpless.
Jasleen Singh’s mixed media sculpture of black marble and brass titled ‘Buildings Manufacturing Sky’ is a visual play of material and shapes that reflect upon the way skyscrapers and high-rise buildings are clouding the skyscapes of urban spaces.
Vikas Sharma’s sculptures and drawings are an act of transformation of ordinary day-to-day objects and shapes, into a fusion of formal elements, texture, and design to evoke associations and memories of the lost heritage of traditions, rituals, icons et al.
With headless and defunct Kala Kendra, and J&K Cultural Academy floundering after its post-Union Territory restructuring under the babus on transit postings, the worst sufferers have been the visual artists. For the last six years, not only the seven-decade-old practice of holding annual art exhibitions has been put on hold but rubbing salt to the wounds, the works submitted for the 2017 annual art exhibition by artists in 2016, (including the awarded works) are also held hostage by the Academy.
Under such a dismal scenario, the art show at Amar Mahal Museum and Library, Jammu, (to be a regular event as part of the annual Tawi Festival ) has opened a welcome window for Jammuites to experience and savor the creative paintings and sculptures by select practicing artists, the cultural capital, of the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir.