ART CURATOR AND WRITER
The mode of harnessing single forms to plural functions has been the hallmark of Madhuri Bhaduri’s work and is visible here in the present show as well. The practice takes her away from the tragic paradigm of urban life which is dominated by a sense of lack and loss. Though the metaphor of illusion is basic to this body of work, the compulsiveness of the little gesture out of which they are made lends them a private, even reclusive character, and the push of this compulsion against the narrow range of overall effect is what gives Madhuri’s paintings their sway. It is refreshing to come upon such deep enduring paintings in the ‘up to the minute’ climate of the present. And yet, her work has never been nostalgic hymns to an existential epoch rather her aim has been to inhabit, and share with the viewer, a pictorial space that is ever-renewed to the rumbling of her soul. It helps her to undergo some changes deep inside her and ripen by solitude extended by a repertoire that resonates with Madhuri’s multi-layered images and abstract forms mostly done in oil on canvas. She is a reliable and clear sighted guide to that exploration of our innermost mind as well. The impact is immense. The golden wing of the butterfly can become the very device that yokes together a fabulous heaven and the desire for a grave. In a pictorial world that is vivid, rich in colour and detail, her imaginative and extraordinary narrative outpourings continue to reverberate with a certain magic realism, arresting the viewer in thrall. People can make sense of embedded architecture and hidden compartments, of the paintings inviting access to spaces which they simultaneously obstruct, leaving the viewer with the feeling of standing before a sealed door or window, from which only echoes of paint seeping around the edges suggest the drama unfolding inside. Here one feels oneself unbearably intercepted by forces buffeting one’s every nerve, imagines the gravity of one’s self to be multiplied and riding on a wave carried away into exhilaration and release: pain and serenity become indistinguishable. In her work the apparent end lies close to the apparent beginning- so close in fact, or in apparent fact, that they are almost indistinguishable. For many abstract artists, gesture is no longer embedded in the same pictorial and referential structures from which it drew its original authority. Rather than being the basis for a dynamic compositional system or a clearly labeled marker of the psyche, it has become increasingly autonomous.
The scale of her work reinforces this effect for it establishes a context for beings, with somewhat larger than human dimensions. The ensemble is invested with portentous ceremonial spirit; one that generates emotions which can easily be recognized but less easily named. It is this quality that suggests that the ensemble may be devoted to profane, instinctual mysteries. She resists the risky conceptual ambiguities. The important fact is that they do not consign the abstract markers to immobility but it is a long line of flight that creates physicality of colour regimes because we are tracing the real and composing a plane of consistency, not simply imaging or dreaming. In the present series, fearing that she might become too adept at this language and so sacrifice that sense of unlaboured freshness which has characterized her work so far to questions of refinement and candour. The whole process of her work represents a physical engagement with technical aspects and the psychological meditative aspect which always elevates and eventually gives a feeling of catharsis, purification of soul. The base coat is applied after the primer coat. This coat contains the visual properties of color and effects, and is usually the one referred to as the paint. “….the shadow of process always falls on the work as it becomes a presence in the world….. the grid or schema is the processual prehistory of the art practice- an origin of sorts-that is then repeated and transformed in the work itself, that is somewhat bringing the work’s conceptual past into its more graphic, performative present”(- Homi.J Bhabha).
Her involvement in light illusory space, dreamy moods create the illusion of looking through a kind that is illuminated from beyond by diffused sunlight. If Madhuri celebrates weightlessness articulated in terms of a picture-script in her acrylics, she voices gravity in somber paintings suffused with a dark palette. In the far distance, the sky dissolves into a dusky haze tinted with yellow, orange and grey behind the skyscrapers and high-rises. The urban space gets transmuted into light leading to an almost spiritual sublimation. To the high-rises, then, we turn to the sky and light, for clues to the meaning of these works. However, by now, the tiny rustics and the diaphanous space create a mood that is passive, trustful and melancholy- they begin to speak of relinquishment, of escape lacking any exuberant painterly iridescence. There is a degree of impressionistic naturalism about this especially in the depiction of light, but what is more strongly projected is an otherworldly numinous quality.
Like the earlier paintings they are what they are, but the questions they raise refer to an ethical position or the relationship between the artist, object and viewer but the sensations one had of it. The quality of density they exclude is intense. She mainly does small to medium sized works to arrive at a fuller expression. Her painted spaces are mainly large to relatively small formats, working with closer to the surface with a sense of intimacy in small and a sense of distance and space – these abstracts are like relics, a record of activity that took place in past, her practice is also a trace that provokes an immediate response pointing to the future. Some of the works have a sense of monumentality and markers used instinctively to stimulate the surface.
It is fitting that her language is implicit in its evolutionary path often evokes and on several occasions actually realizes the potentials of a meditative enclosure and are replete with images of a static eternity that substitutes the external one translating feeling and emotions into a visual language- the implacable absolute of otherness. These qualities, beyond words, are the source of their distinction, their intimacy, inwardly generated and not imposed. Within these painted spaces there is intense application of mind, a narration, nuances; obviously, the energy made visible reaches a certain grandeur, and one has to watch closely the expressive visual modulation of the colour grid into which are woven interlocking planes which are so fragile that they may go unnoticed. When the images are interned in a certain realm and are not before us recall a connection that stays with us; the interaction between repetition and recollection has already become a part of our sensual memory. It is necessary for her that her act follows an internal spontaneous spirituality and becomes meditative. The various constituents of the paintings are overtly acknowledged accompanied with a cool literalism. The components here are distilled and then examined as all these fascinate and for us the exhibition posits the viewer between the roles of spectator and participant, author and reader, singular and plural.