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A Dive into “Beautiful: Black & White” Artistic Domain

“Drawing is a way of coming upon the connection between things, just like metaphor in poetry reconnects what has become separated.”- John Berger

‘My Lily Pond’ –an art hub in Bangalore became a cosy place for twenty five artists and their fifty works in the Art exhibition ‘Beautiful Black & White’ – welcoming, inclusive and supportive of creative expression. The aesthetic arrangements of paintings, drawings and sculptures displayed together created a contemplative and intimate atmosphere. The celebration and conglomeration seemed to belong to each and every one.

The glaring difference between light and dark can dramatize the subject matter and acme the dynamics of artistic configuration. Demonstrating the power of minimalist compositions, in the show one can see intricate pen drawings, detailed, playful and expressive drawings; structural as well as gestural; smooth or jagged, continuous or broken, unattached and free-flowing lines apprehending the movement and energy of the subject; application of digital tools to create black and white artworks that pushes the precincts of traditional media. There is versatility and continuing charm, each quality contributing to the texture and feel in black and white artworks spread across the gallery in various mediums and styles.

The simplicity of the palette leads to intricate and deliberate arrangements of elements, to achieve smooth shifts and a fused look within the frame, without any distraction of colour. The black and white palette underscores the tragedy and chaos, stripping away any commotions and directing the viewer on the raw emotion. The play of light and shadow augments the surreal. The use of negative space becomes more pronounced. This approach allows for a focused exploration of other artistic elements, leading to works that are both harmonious and powerful, which is visible in the artworks of twenty five artists. Among these, on display are also the works of distinguished artists like SG Vasudev, MG Doddamani, CS Krishna Setty, Vijay S Hagaragundagi, PS Kumar and PB Harsoor. Fragmented or dashed lines in SG Vasudev’s pen drawing ‘Rhapsody’ seem to be an interconnected arras of imagery adding layers of meaning, which imply form without fully defining it, adding a sense of mystery, yet minimal and complete in itself. There’s a narrative thread running through face, tree, birds and even dancing forms, inviting viewers to embark on a journey of imagination and interpretation contributing to the overall rhapsodic experience. PS Kumar’s abstract ‘Faces’ in mixed media are powerful and evocative. He transcends mere physical likeness, using colour, form, and texture capturing the very essence and emotions through the subject. The palette choices amplify the mood and the distortion and coats of paint suggest the layers of distinctiveness and impulse.

CS Krishna Setty draws unconventional narrative structures to deliver abstract impressions or reconnoitre the inner workings of the human mind.  Animals, nature, birds, fish, hands and trees- all connotations are intermingled, connected through lines and finally forming a single form, veiled in symbolic layers. The riveting perceptions and emblematical appearances are charged up with meanings, suggestions and emotions. PB Harsoor’s drawings are a portrayal of folk elements, with galloping horses, elephants, trees, human form, birds and lotus. The decorative approach adds a layer of depth and storytelling to the piece. There are tiled and linear sections, and forms overdrawn with more forms in their body ricochets a blend of contemporary styles with traditional folk motifs.

Vijay S Hagaragundagi’s Indian mythology drawings ‘Rati’ and ‘Kama’ are rich in symbolism, detail, and cultural elements that convey deep spiritual and philosophical meanings. Richly adorned with jewellery, crowns, and elaborate garments, reflecting their divine status become the part of Vijay’s fine lines. The narratives reveal each deity with an animal vehicle, specific weapons or objects that symbolize their powers and attributes. MG Doddamani’s folded hands in graphite and charcoal echoes the blankness of mind and fretfulness for what future holds. Whether its hands or portrait of a woman, he beautifully creates gradients and subtle transitions between light and dark areas, while rendering the shadows. The smooth blends, rich contrasts, and expressive marks, are handled sensibly to uphold fine details and control over smudging.

The juxtaposition of frenzied brushwork and underlying structure in Shivakumar Kesarmadu’s abstractions convey movement, energy, and spontaneity. There is a visceral, almost tactile sensation to the brushwork. Each stroke feels alive, contributing to a pulsating rhythm that animates the canvas. Flying Lord Hanuman becomes the subject of Jagannath Bellad’s fine line drawing, where not only the jewellery but even the tiny details like a bell on His tail has been minutely included. Inclination towards Indian miniature style is evident in his mixed media on Satin fabric. Arpitha RG’s untitled pen drawings are self-representative, relaxing with stretched legs in the clouds, balanced over the foliage of trees; vacant sofa and imagining herself on the back of a bee flying across and overlooking the modern set up. She seeks a bridge between the simplicity of rural beauty with complexity of urban dynamics, reflecting both the quiet of nature and effervescence of city life.

Alka Chadha Harpalani’s mixed media the elements have been selectively picked from wandering thoughts, peeping through the split, splash and splatter. In the series one can see self-representation, soulful minglings with flowers, paper cuttings, random scribbles, pigeons, letters as precious keepsakes and ribbons flying through the window with poetic discourses hanging onto them. The variegated appearance in Manjunath Honnapura’s artwork is a contribution of Etching, pencil and watercolours. The unvarying embossed patterns charge up the negative space and highlight the tiny bubbles drawn in the foreground. Rosh Ravindran envisions a world where animals roam freely across the ruins of devastated earth while the human is seen struggling for survival, with a woman collecting dry logs as well as perched on narrow heaps of stones eyeing a free deer in envy. His work in pen and soft pastels reflects his contemplative approach to environmental themes, ecological issues and life’s interdependence.

Kanthi V’s work arrests the spirit and beauty of the magnificent bird, the essence and vibrancy of the peacock’s movement and plumage rather than depicting it in a realistic manner. The abstract brushstrokes translate the motions of peacock into dynamic lines, curves, and forms that convey a sense of fluidity and energy. Jyoti S Deo’s art is set in a backdrop of a world where coal is a lifeline, where her concerns for environment can be seen in the visual where a forlorn deer is standing in the barren land. Strip mining and mountaintop removal involve removing large areas of land, which destroys habitats and alters landscapes. Forests, streams, and ecosystems are often obliterated, leading to loss of biodiversity. Rudragaud Indi’s watercolour on paper ‘Social worker’ seems to be a satire where an elephant is carrying a seat tied on its back, covered in white cloth. His concern for the value of each drop of water, the preciousness and scarcity of this vital resource, is apparent in his second visual with a sapling growing in a paper pot with the help of single drop of water falling over it from a tap- an artistic expression with advocacy.

Manpreet Bamrah’s ‘Speaking remnants’ poignant and evocative subject reflect weathered walls of Indian architecture with hindi poetry oozing through the cracks; within the silent ruins a narrative unfolds, the endurance of structures, echoing tales of the eras gone by- stories of love, separation and steadfast faith embedded in their walls. Pradeep Kumar- ‘Adolescent codes’ is a compilation of twelve small drawings slightly raised from the base, with things like mike, glass, candle, lamp, scissors, grapes etc drawn on black paper. A blend of sketchbook and photoshop in the stark contrasts created by Jagannivasan Sundaresan brings out the concept of yin and yang and the cosmic explosion leading to marine life and life on earth. The interplay of black ink (yin) and white paper (yang) symbolizes balance. The digital effects convey movement and stillness, further emphasizing the duality.

The tumultuous energy in free-flowing waves in Bina Mirchanandani’s work starts from a point and spreads across the surface, focusing on the essence of movement making the eye travel inside the tonal gradations of the folds. Same lines can be seen in ‘Timber tales’ emphasizing the textures that mimic the irregular and organic patterns found in wood, including grain patterns, knots, and imperfections. Esha John captures the beauty and diversity of aquatic life in her drawing. The miscellany includes the smooth free flowing fins, short and curved lines to suggest the pattern of scales, along with highlighting distinctive patterns, such as lotus, stripes, spots, or gradients. Gowrishanker’s pen and ink work shows Iris flowers, where the only the one in front has miniscule details while the linear flowers in the background support the main object. Delicate line work captures the subtle nuances of the Iris. The varied line thickness and textures generated through skillful pen strokes give the flowers a sense of volume and movement, enhancing their beauty.

Pushpa Reddy’s ‘Tandava’ and ‘Lambhodhara’ in graphite and charcoal are bursting with rhythm, free-flowing body forms and emotional intensity. Bold lines and sweeping curves guide the eye, creating a sense of movement and vitality. Shanker Sundaram has painted nature in bold segments of white, grey and black. Heightened contrast serves as focal points, anchoring the composition and adding to the visual interest. He creates a sense of fragmentation and complexity, as incongruent shapes and lines traverse, lie side by side and even overlap. Vanaja Bal explores, depicts and draws inspiration from nature, an essential component of life, where her black and grey composition with two holding hands, with joint call of a couple painted in background; as well as a hand extended towards lion appears to be a reach out for nature. The visual is imbued with coexistence, harmony, and the balance between human growth and natural preservation. Neelam Malhotra has sensitively caught emotions in ‘Sentinals’ with two hardly noticeable hugging figures in front of huge building covered by tree; and then a child seen playing through the colourful plants, oblivious to his surroundings in graphite and coloured pencils.

In a few words one can say, stripping away the distraction of colour, black and white artworks often carry an arresting and perpetual appeal. The absence of colour lets the viewer to focus on the interplay of light and shadow. This approach of uniformity in paintings, consistent use of a limited colour palette across works of art, created a cohesive, symphonic effect that accentuated certain artistic features and themes by underlining and centring on the core elements like such as line, shape, texture, contrasts and values, making the composition feel more integrated. It allowed the subject matter or the artistic technique to take centre stage. Monochromatic palette created a nuanced and stylish upshot, where the variances in tone and shade delivered depth and curiosity. “As the first major exhibition hosted at My Lily Pond, we are eager to establish it as a central hub for artists and art enthusiasts to converge and celebrate creativity. This event is a testament to our commitment to enhancing the artistic community in Bangalore”, says MG Doddamani, the Founder of Oorja Expressions and Curator of the show. Kanthimathy Jayachandran, the Founder of and the visionary behind ‘My Lily Pond – Art Hub’, has transformed the space from just an art gallery into a pulsating crucible of creativity and camaraderie for artists, art lovers and collectors.

The Art exhibition ‘Beautiful Black & White’ was inaugurated by the Guests of Honour- the eminent artists SG Vasudev and CS Krishna Setty known for their contributions to contemporary art scenario; Himaja D-Co-Founder Blue Tree, Dr Joseph Rasquinha- Art Collector and Entrepreneur, Subodh Shanker- Co-Founder Atta Galatta, Bangalore. The show goes on from 7th June till 23rd June 2023.

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