Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sustainable Hopes

Below is the critique of "Windmills of Hope" by Art critic - Johny ML
Two things cannot be missed out while watching the latest painting series by Srushti Mandar Rao; the vibrancy of lines that reminds anyone of the rhythmic fusion of body, movement, music and light created by a dancer and a heightened awareness of environmental issues. Srushti being a trained painter, dancer and a serious trekker, this pronounced fusion of concerns in her works comes quite naturally and the style that she has developed over a period of time has a characteristic of its own and has got strong art historical affinities with the American Optical Art experiments of 1960s. The new series titled, ‘Windmills of Hope’ brings forth the artist’s idea about a future, which should depend on sustainable development and environmental protection.

The distinct style of painting, which Srushti fondly qualifies as ‘Line-ism’ explores the possibilities of lines and their tonal gradations on a pictorial surface. The planar division of the surface through vertical, horizontal and zigzag lines, as well as through the specific distribution of tonal intensities generates at once the feel of a colorful spectrum and the illusion of a solid image. Srushti invests her energies in the creation of abstract values of colors and lines as a musician focuses on ragas. The works demand the viewer to make physical adjustments so that they could enjoy both the abstract and figurative elements embedded in them.

The present series, ‘Windmills of Hope’ took shape when Srushti visited Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, where she witnessed a series of windmills erected for the generation of alternative power/energy. Windmills, despite their economic and investment values, within their physical appearance and purpose carry an aesthetical appeal (seeing them against the horizon or along the roads that you travel is a thought provoking as well as meditative experience) and a futuristic vision. As an alternative energy resource, windmills, to certain extent assure the preservation of environment in its actual state. Windmills, aesthetically speaking, represent an alternative icon of contemporary times. These icons of our times embody human dignity, mobility and freedom; one could feel it along with the artist.

Interestingly, Srushti in a very subconscious way connects her new series with the way the Impressionists of the late 19th century France had painted their surroundings. It is not just that the Impressionists had painted windmills and today Srushti does the same, but Srushti too like the Impressionists captures the mood of the windmills as per the change of light and time. Windmills are identical with one another. However, in Srushti’s works each one of them carries a distinct personality and a deeper look would reveal that Srushti gives attention in producing the effect the ‘time’ through the selection of particular lights of the day; for instance she sees them like persons walking towards you, or someone seen under moonlight or a cloudy sky. She captures the speed of the rotating blades the way a minimalist like Brancusi would produce the effect of movement in his sculptures.

Rhythmic movements and changing moods of light and time are palpable in the works of Srushti. Though she does not attempt at the actual representation of the landscapes within which these windmills are distributed, through the creation of textural fields and suggestive minimal symbolism Srushti Mandar Rao vivifies not only the physical values of the windmills but also of the landscapes.

art critic, writer, curator
May 2011
New Delhi

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