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The Colors of the river Narmada: Sanju Jain’s abstract paintings

Ved Prakash Bhardwaj

Art expands human consciousness making people aware of themselves and their surroundings. When the desire to express memories and experiences beyond words awakens, then only is art born. Bhopal-based artist Sanju Jain’s solo exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai expresses this sublimity of emotions that words cannot convey.

Sanju Jain

Sanju Jain, well-recognized for her abstract paintings, has also worked with natural colors in this exhibition. She cherishes her experiences and creates memories in her paintings. The memories of Hoshangabad and Narmada are seen taking shape in her paintings with new aura and meaning in the combination of colors and texture at the emotional level. Just as the shapes in memories often get mixed with each other, blurring their real form; in the same way, the colors in the paintings of Sanju Jain lose their origin as they mix with each other. There is a continuous process of transformation in her paintings: the loss of the original and the discovery of the new. The abstract images of shapes in paintings free the viewer from the limitations of meaning. The viewers take a journey through these images through their own memories and experiences. Her art becomes a conduit through which the viewer shapes their own remembrances. This is the reason art is often said to be a conscious experience of the ultimate mystery.


Sanju Jain is constantly inventing something new in her art.  She applies colors in several layers by using paper and other materials. This process creates texture on the canvas, creating a play of light and dark in a synergistic effect as different materials intermingle. Due to this, many undefined figures emerge in her paintings. Sometimes such figures give the impression of a human torso, while other times it appears as a big stone in a silent place, which has been carved into an abstract shape by the environment like an artist.

The artist’s melodramatic relationship with colors and undefined shapes that manifests in her paintings becomes an indicator of her deep devotion to human life at a larger level. Art starts emerging as the most valuable aspect of human life. Abstract art can be thought of as finding oneself on a different plane. This rediscovery of the self turns into a contemplation which ultimately leads the art to spiritual transcendence. While looking at Sanju Jain’s paintings, the viewer can abandon complicated inner feelings and attempt to regain the self, making her works a process of meditation.

The artist has associated the paintings displayed at the exhibition with the Narmada River, with her exhibition being called “Narmada ke Rang”, or “The colors of Narmada”. Many artists have worked in their own way on the Narmada River, such as Amritlal Vegad. It is a recurring but important topic: the Narmada River is like the lifeline of a large part of Madhya Pradesh. The serene atmosphere of the banks of the Narmada and its lyrical currents has always been an inspiration to painters and poets. It is obvious why Sanju Jain has called this exhibition the colors of Narmada. Two types of paintings are included in this exhibition. Most art lovers are aware of the world of her abstract paintings. In this exhibition, she has also displayed paintings made with colors extracted from flowers, which are shaped, although these shapes also contain the feeling of abstraction.

Sanju Jain’s concept of visual presentation centers on the different meanings and dimensions of creation. It is about the energy and power that gives stability and nourishment to the life force. Her works of art express the power and leadership of feminine energy as a primal creative energy associated with the creation and sustenance of this universe. Sanju’s colors have the power to communicate emotions directly. Her colors are energetic, and constantly active like on canvas. This feeling of activity in a still picture emerges due to the combination of colors used by the artist, which makes the abstract forms come to life. Her paintings enthrall the viewers and captivate them, leading them to open up to the colors and shapes of the painting.

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