The Art Gallery

I wandered into an art gallery today evening. It was a show of abstract art by Ravi Gill. The first painting that really got me was "Oceans Between". It seemed (to me) to be a reflection on the gulf between the rich and the poor in modern India. The top part of the painting seemed like "pucca" buildings, and was full of light, while the bottom part looked like a shanty-town, dark and dreary. The "ocean" that divided the two seemed quite intimate, almost a river. The overall effect of the painting was quite provocative:

Right next to "Oceans Between" was "Sleep Another Day". This was another moving painting, with what looked like skyscrapers bathed by a gloomy, setting sun. Almost as if night was a reprieve to a bustling population trying to make do.

The rest of the paintings seemed to be variations on the same basic shapes as Gill experimented with colors and placement. Some worked, some didn't until he achieved a radiant breakthrough in this set of three paintings hung side-by-side. It seemed to be a vision of a more happy future. From "Oceans Between" to "Sleep Another Day" to this three-fold melody of colors ... all created with the same basic shapes, yet evoking completely different emotions.

As I was standing, looking the triptych over, a bearded fellow came over and gave me a booklet. "I would like you to have this," he said. It turned out to be the artist himself. "And don't just look at the pictures," he advised, "read the words too."

Although the gallery had only the titles alongside the pictures, the book of paintings had little poems to a female muse alongside each poem.

"Oceans Between" had these words:
Ibeza's eyes remind me
of someone
I knew so very long ago ...
Pore by pore,
thread by thread
who slipped, drop by drop
into the oceans
that now separate us.

"Sleep Another Day" was similarly about the female muse:
I wake her gently
and unpack her
from my fresh dreams
into the day.
Left to me
I would rather
let her sleep
another day
tucked deep in ...
So, the paintings were not a social commentary at all. I had transferred my own reflections of India, its growth and its inequality onto his canvas. Still ... the five paintings moved me even if they moved me in ways the artist did not intend.

No comments:

Post a Comment