New Delhi: Vasudha Thozhur’s paintings have a voice of their own. Through her strokes you can see the dissonance, criss-crossing of territories - between abstraction and figuration, colour and form and a juxtaposition of what exists and what should be.
A thinking person’s artist, she creates a world of subtle tonalities, with a corresponding mutation in visual impact. Colour appears as light, in the medieval strategy of controlled areas of brilliant illumination particularly readable through the use of symbols or imagery drawn from popular memory.
Her paintings provide a stage for the occasional appearance of the human figure in the form of a self-image or of other significant players in her life. The scale allows the necessary physical entry, while an unfolding drama proceeds in panels of differing visual codes and languages.
In her own words, “Change and time are essential components which are physically incorporated into the work like pieces of grit in an oyster shell, visually and visibly transforming it without weakening the logic of the processes at work.”
A unique tool wherein she allows the appearance of herself in her paintings to some extent blurs the boundaries between the inner and outer realties, art and life, invention and circumstance, in a paradoxical attempt to defy and seek division and to define this attempt and the grey areas that it engenders.
Thozhur describes one of the paintings ‘Untouchable 1’ by saying, “In the painting - the self-image is framed within the context of widowhood/sacrifice/loss of sexuality, through the shaving of one’s hair. It is part of a group of four, with the peacock as the central motif. The first panel is a piece of text, a letter, to be precise, in vermilion and gold.
The second panel is based on a press photograph, which appeared in the newspapers during the months after the earthquake in Gujarat, of a man whose hair is being shaved off by a barber in preparation for rituals of death and mourning. The artist’s image is substituted in the painting.
The third panel is a painting of a peacock. A national/notional bird is an intended cliché. There are two broad aspects to this panel where one is a personal loss, the other is the nation, or rather the play of forces that seeks to define it in exclusive terms - embodied by the aggressive display of opulent plumage, and the seduction that it intends.”
Vasudha Thozhur was born in Mysore in 1956. She studied painting at the College of Arts and Crafts in Chennai and at the School of Art and Design in Croydon, UK. She lives and works in Baroda.
The exhibtion is on view at the Vadhera Art Gallery from May 14 - 28