Lunar landscapes 2012

Lunar Landscapes: where earth meets sky-fall

The orb, the circle, the sphere, the very seed of life, these are recurring leitmotifs in artist Nisha Sharma Sandhu. The orb in Nisha’s work, in most instances possesses the astral calm of night; in fact it is the tranquil beauty of the moon rather than the blazing reds of a brighter star like the sun that the artist seems to evoke in her current suite of works. When a supernova of colour does explode onto the canvas, the calm that follows this explosion is contained within the grids and circles that the artist intuitively constructs her work around.

For this exhibition, Nisha presents a suite of 25 works that were executed in Stockholm over a period of two years. The largest canvas in this series is 5×7 feet while the smaller works range between 3×4 feet to 1.5×1.5 feet. The canvases are primed with texture white before the artist begins her process and while each canvas is planned through sketches and preparatory drawings, the final magic takes place spontaneously as she is working on the actual canvas.
Her journey as a painter began in the late 1990s in the sylvan village of Banasthali, near Jaipur in Rajasthan, close to nature. She went on to study as a printmaker and graphic artist, hence much of her practice as a printmaking informs her approach to painting and has morphed into her discipline of painting on large canvases. While she enjoys the sensuous drip of paint across the canvas, the printmakers’ fascination with texture marks the surface of each canvas, as dots of paint rise out in full relief and thicker layers of impasto colours create consistency on the painted surface.

Her palette is an assortment of vibrant hues of pinks, reds, greens. There are also tranquil blues earthy shades of brown, muted ochre and lively orange. In some instances the earth shades of chocolaty brown mingle with a fresh startling azure reminding one of Amitav Ghosh’s ‘Hungry Tide’, that is set in the Sundarbans where there are no borders to divide fresh water from salt, river from sea, even land from water. The tides reach more than two hundred miles inland, and every day thousands of acres of mangrove forest disappear only to re-emerge hours later. This disappearance and re-emergence of land under water is evoked in her quieter suite of works where the division of sky, water and earth is not clearly demarcated yet one gets a sense of viewing aerially a landmass, a heaving floodplain engulfed by static pools of blue.

The ‘Hungry Tide’, which Ghosh refers to bears within its poetics a catastrophe of destruction, it is both benevolent and malevolent. This dual aspect of nature is something that Nisha’s work consciously engages with.
In other works there is a suggestion of forms like a tree in full bloom a human visage and a circular settlement of homes or a colony, however the works are open ended and do not specifically deliberate on one particular form or reading. As it were, the image texts reveal themselves to the viewer through an associative reading matter, as we have seen in the works of abstractionists like Paul Klee who was fascinated by the ambiguous semiotics of oriental characters and their oscillation between abstraction and imagery. In some canvases the subtle hint of calligraphy makes its appearance in words that evoke God the maker, the supreme one who according to Nisha presides over all that is natural, orchestrating the forces of creation and destruction in Nature. Thus the circle of life is completed.
Georgina Maddox (Georgina Maddox is Independent Art Critic-Curator, who blurs the lines of documentation, theory and praxis by operating as a critic/curator and involving herself in visual artist projects.)

About Nisha Sandhu
Born in July, 1979, Nisha Sandhu studied for her Masters in Drawing & Painting from Banasthali Vidyapith (2000). She did a Postgraduate Diploma in Creative Graphics (2001) and holds a Certificate Course in Fresco Painting at Banasthali (1999-2000); She is the winner of the prestigious “Bharat Joyti Award” (IIFS) and holds a National Scholarship for working in print making (2003-04), awarded by the HRD, Ministry of culture Govt of India. She has had several exhibitions both solo and group shows across the country and internationally, Besides attending various paintings & graphics camps at national level in India she also attended camps at the Royal Haga Park, Stockholm, organised by TellusArt.

Her recent Solo at The Contemporary Walk at Galleri Tersaeus, Stockholm, Sweden, 2012, has received good reviews and she is particular about sharing her work with her Indian audience, hence her ongoing solo at the Habitat Centre will be one of many.

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