Vibrant hues of the desert
Rameshwar Singh reinvents tradition by juxtaposing contemporary art with popular culture
VISUAL Treat Texture enhances the patterned design
The lure of tradition remains a perennial source of inspiration for many artists. And Rameshwar Singh of Rajasthan, who is showcasing his works at Vinnyasa Premium Art Gallery, is no exception.
Living and working in Jaipur, his works manifest a particular sensibility that is rooted in tradition. In his art he reinvents traditions by juxtaposing contemporary art with folk and popular culture.
Traditionally, folk art springs from the fundamentals of life and invocations to the Nature Spirit and its regenerative functions.
Singh’s environment was woven with this richness of tradition as well as the ritualistic practices that provided opportunity for drawing, painting and crafting during festivals and other occasions as birth, marriage and death.
It was in his family environs that Singh learnt his artistic skills, honed later by his academic stint at Udaipur University.
The spatiotemporal dimension in Singh’s work is significant. The temporal aspect of contemporary art in India is rich because of the complexity of philosophical, cultural and scientific concepts.
And it is not surprising to find Singh, indulging his intense fascination in arts by drawing upon his enduring cultural roots.
Through reinvention and reinterpretation, he revitalizes his regional culture, generating an artistic language grounded in his contemporary reality.
Visually the tool adapted by Singh, to indicate the concept of time is the handwritten script on paper with burnt edges; a notion of the vagaries of nature on manmade objects. The script is intentionally faded to create an aura of a bygone era over which time slowly has taken its toll.
In addition he reinforces ‘the moment’ with a watch bearing Roman numerals that becomes a leitmotif, extending the idea to signify antiquity.
The dominant concept of time finds further reference in the shape of tablets generically associated with Christianity or stone stele found in the Mesopotamian civilization or perhaps the shards of pottery which again reminds one of the vicissitudes of life and nature, or the mythical kinnaras half-human and half-bird all becoming indicators of his timeless iconography.
His compositions are not structured; rather they convey a free organisation of space, a modernist gesture yet primarily glancing towards the regional miniature tradition, reinforced by expressive and resonant colours.
Some works have single iconic form as the horse or the face, impacting by their hypnotic gaze.
The images are varied ranging from horses, kinnaras, human figures, and objects, as watches, scripts, gramophone, have a life and dynamism of their own.
The subjects in his works whether a horse or a parrot-headed kinnara have sharp individuality and stand apart from each other as personalities in themselves.
The magnetic appeal of his work is dictated by his colours and meticulously worked out textures. A strong linearity underpins his work and defines the contours of his figures and objects.
In addition he shades the contour with a dark tone underscoring the inherent vitality that his images already possess.
The colours are interfaces of the desert - vibrant, rhythmic, pulsating with energy and resonating in their brilliant chromas.
It is here that Singh strikes a posture of difference because of his sense of intimate colours borne out of his experiences and internalized over years by interaction within his region.
The colours are parrot green, vermillion, desert ochre , turmeric yellow, passionate browns, winter blues, shocking oranges, milky creams and night blacks.
Texture enhances the patterned design; created out of impasto paint in which he has carved symbols and decorative motifs, or has used fine calligraphic lines etched with mastery and easy facility to create visual titillation.
The show is on at Vinnyasa Premium Art Gallery, CIT Colony, 1st Main Road, Mylapore till September 20.
ASHRAFI S. BHAGAT
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