Delhi born Jasleena Singh is a product of the Apeejay School of Design, and thereafter the Delhi College of Art for her Master’s. With a penchant for antiquated objects, Jasleena has been a frequent visitor to Chandni Chowk, Chor Bazaar and Darya Ganj Sunday Markets of Delhi’s Old City and other available locales that she happens to chance upon. Simple objects like an old family radio, a typewriter, a cane chair, old mugs, all become charming motifs within her subject.
Her debut show at the Lalit Kala galleries is a three-part series of works that celebrate the old. The Lantern Series, the Teapot Series and the Retro Series all become little studies of still life, imbued in cultural connotations.
It tends to posit her as a follower of decadence, revelling in the craft, finesse, time and dedication that went into the making of these everyday objects, investing them with great beauty and value, worthy of appreciation, preserved for posterity.
States she, “This body of works is fuelled with old school styling and day-to-day used instruments. I believe life is about cherishing our history and reminiscing the past. These works include my very own personal take on art with the joy of pastel shades of the retro era. Ranging from literal interpretations to metaphorical synthesis, these paintings incorporate dreams, emotions and expressions that are my work.”
Use of old texts and paper, or different calligraphic fonts on her canvas as a background, makes for stronger, clearer bonding while preserving the physical entity of the objects of a bygone era. “An artist’s output are manifestations of her muse. These elements reflect an era through which India’s culture has grown and stands as it is today. These objects have as if “seen” time change and turn, now wait for someone to come, pick them up and reinstate them.
More often than not we tend to relegate older possessions, not having the heart to discard them, for fear of denigrating what was once dear, even essential to us. Jasleena has lovingly used the imagery of these forgotten objects, embedding them on well-crafted backgrounds that enhance antiquity with script, scroll, text and colour, principally for their pictorial rather than for relevance to content.
While the backgrounds, vital as they are to her pictorial vocabulary, make use of graphic media such as screen print and others, for the subject objects she uses a variety of media for interest. Each of the keys to her typewriter, for instance, are little button size pieces of plywood cut out for the purpose of creating relief on the image.
“…Sets”, with a number of little radio images comes as a pun on sets. It could be a radio set, or a set created for cinema or stage, impressioning upon the viewer the hint of a staircase on the left running diagonally up to the right.
This is a composition wherein the component radio sets vie with each other for antiquity, even as the entire palette bespeaks drama ~ from the arrangement of the bright strips of colour to the small messengers of the world ~ the radio framed in windows, like a theatre stage or cinema screen, contrived under the staircase of an old colonial mansion.
Likewise, Jasleena is sensitive and innovative in her renderings of Lanterns and Tea pots, both extremely poignant for their period and presence. Good Luck to Jasleena Singh, showing at Delhi’s Lalit Kala till 17 May.