Sunday, 24 February 2008

Facts of Fiction -[review - Sharmi Chowdhury [Gallery Art Alive

“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players…………..”
                                                                                              - William Shakespeare
Bizarre Encounter. Tempera on silk
81 x 44 inches
 For Sharmi Chowdhury, [Art Alive, New Delhi] the ‘canvas’ is her stage, to narrate strange tales of characters with a world-view peculiar to them. Theatre is her inspiration and she tends to overstate this, by drawing in, the stage curtain. Her point however is adequately made in the drama that unfolds. 
Resonating with diverse cultural influences, her silk scrolls have elements of Japonisme, Toreadors and chawls of Gujarat interacting on the same space.  In ‘Bizarre Encounters’ [tempera on silk 81”x 44”] a tailor sews on his machine, as a man tenses in sleep at his feet, with a rooster looking on, while another engages in a bull-fight. All being played out in an arena that passers-by do not even glance at. Each curiously engaged in his own world.
Unbearable Shelves. Water
colour on paper 16 x 12 inches
It is wonderful to see the expressions she creates – perplexed, vexed, confused, curious, arrogant and surly. No-one appears happy. It’s a dour world that brings a smile to our lips, evocative of a familiar mental state, adeptly and humorously portrayed.
Despite the numerous parallel events that unfold, the scrolls have spatial qualities that exude space. Her characters do not assume larger than life scope but are diminutive yet playfully articulate in their muteness. However, she is not nearly as successful in her painted canvases, smaller scrolls, ceramic plates or water-colour on paper.  
There is a refreshing quality to the large scrolls where the artist tentatively explores ideas which are quite audacious. It is a charming world; one not that removed from a familiar physical reality, but imbued with a promising spirit and insight that reflect Sharmi Chowdhury’s very own, unique view of the world.