At Akara Art, Mumbai, a set of 12-13 works are being installed. They feature cityscapes, intricately etched with geometric patterns. Some are grey in scale, others feature hints of indigo. There are still others with sculptural elements done in gouache, kite paper colours and beeswax. Whether it is ink-and-pen drawings or the ones with relief work on them, all of Bhagyashree Suthar’s works—part of her second solo, Fields Of Eros And Enchantment—have a three-dimensional quality.

The new set of works are a little different from her earlier ones, which focused primarily on black and brown hues. These not only carry splashes of indigo and blue but focus on abstract architectural landscapes.

One came across her art in the Capital at the Focus segment of the India Art Fair 2019, where Suthar’s was one of seven solo presentations. Her paintings were marked with a strong voice, articulated through unique materials such as beeswax—a material she first used while studying encaustic painting at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Suthar went on to use it in her debut solo at Akara Art, titled Fractal Future, in 2016.

Untitled gouache, kite paper colour and pigmented beeswax on paper, laid out on board
Untitled gouache, kite paper colour and pigmented beeswax on paper, laid out on board (Courtesy Akara Art/Artist)

Since then, beeswax—sourced from Jodhpur, her hometown—has become a medium of choice. The kind that she uses is typically part of the production of food products, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The process of making forms with wax is long and laborious, and it is tough to get the consistency right. The process with kite paper, too, is elaborate—it needs to be wet, and placed on a painted canvas to aid colour transfer. Suthar loves the precision of each step and finds it therapeutic.

Suthar’s practice reflects a fascination with architecture and geometry. Her works, a play of “the fantastical and the familiar", are inspired by Roman and Gothic constructions, geometric patterns found in nature, the Fibonacci sequence, and fluid designs by the late British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. “I adore Hadid’s work. The ductility of a melting existence and the exquisite, yet distinct, character of her architecture always draws my attention. She connects malleability with strictness of form—it is something I can relate to," says Suthar.

Part of her fascination with design elements can be attributed to growing up in a family of furniture-makers. “The sense of illusion (in my work) also helps to play with the viewer’s imagination, prompting him or her to look for something within the grids. Through my art, I lay out architectural forms. Imagining a city of the future has always fascinated me," says Suthar over the phone from Vadodara.

The artist finds a likeness between architecture and nature—both are always changing and regenerating. She finds a reflection of her own personality in the nature of these elements—be it the rigidity, form or detailing. “It’s what I am as a person. I like precision in everything. Everything needs to be systematic, with not even a pen out of place. So, I am rigid in some ways. And yet, as a creative person, I am flexible and imaginative," explains Suthar.

Fields Of Eros And Enchantment will open at Akara Art, Mumbai, on 9 January.

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