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Shades of black

Aruna Bhowmick |

From portraits to the seasons to individual figure studies and still lives, charcoal drawings can hold a viewer mesmerised. Black and white can create a magic dreamscape that colour never can, it has been remarked. With so many colours around us, this is perhaps even more true in present times.

Charcoal on white paper as a medium has drawn a gifted artist like Pushpa Bagrodia, who at 75, continues to work and experiment with mediums. Pushpa has been known for her water colours, and is for the first time exhibiting her exploration with charcoals in an exhibition aptly titled Shwet-Shyam, presented by Creativity Art Gallery.

The show was inaugurated by singer-actor-musician, Padma Shri recipient Shekhar Sen, who is known for his mono-acts on Kabir and Vivekanand, apart from other historical, mythological, and of late, ordinary contemporary characters.  Drawn in realistic and semi-abstract styles, the works depict nature ~ leaves, flowers, waters and trees. Bagrodia’s inspiration comes from her garden. This debut in monochrome is proof of Bagrodia’s singular talent of mastering a medium she has not handled before with such proficiency and sensitivity. Bagrodia’s new works celebrate charcoal in a variety of subjects ranging from plants, flowers and palm trees to landscape. Comprising around 50 works done in monochrome, each work sports a very high artistic quality. The kind of light and shade by way of tonalities she is able to deliver are no mean achievement. The satin sheen of a cluster of leaves, seemingly with a backdrop of antiquated wooden blinds made by her, is a case in point. Each of the trees, from the palms to the others, have their own challenges by way of rendering form and the consequent play of light on and between their foliage. Bagrodia renders them with an almost photographic accuracy, with that little extra softness added to them by virtue of being hand drawn.

At times taking help from the texture of the paper Bagrodia enriches the visual effect of a setting, adding more interest within the frame. From the light furry touch to the more solid and fleshy feel, the artist renders them all as if charcoal has been her favoured medium for her on a life-long basis.

Born in May 1943, Bagrodia has held almost 14 solo exhibitions of her works in various cities, including Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chandigarh since 1999. Subjects for the artist are available in the oasis of her own home in Delhi, the verdant landscaped gardens flowing with flowers and palms, as well as the Whispering Palms Resorts in Goa, where she spends a few days every year.  A travelling show, Shwet Shyam will move to Creativity Art Gallery in Hauz Khas from 8-20 November. The show will then go to Kolkata where it shows from 13-26 January next year at the Harrington Street Gallery.