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Simple beauty

The essence of Hemawathy Guha’s works lies in her imagination and ingenuity in transforming her simple, basic ingredients into works of exceptional beauty.

Aruna Bhowmick |

Hemawathy Guha’s works have been recognisable for her acute sense of symmetry, compact, rhythmic compositions and vibrancy of colour. Whichever be her medium, Guha never veers away from the grammar of her compositions, pre-determined and executed to perfection, with no options of compromise. No wonder, too, for her vocabulary is inspired and derived from the very cores of nature, in itself an immeasurably disciplined, perfected phenomenon.

Earlier involved in painting, her current medium of buttons, thread and acrylic on canvas made inroads into her vocabulary after a virtual hiatus lasting six months, and then went on to stay. “It had begun to feel routine and repetitive, and I felt the need to move on, try something new. Over time I began to engage with different material ~ fabric, needle and thread ~ it was a while before it all emerged and I began to enjoy it. Friends chanced upon my works and exclaimed in appreciation. My engine thus got powered and I took it on seriously, zeroing in on methods and material, putting it all into place as I envisioned. The idea of spaces between the cells in our body, the light that shines through heavily foliaged trees, as also virtual spaces that we must negotiate within our normal course of life in order to carry on, all seeped into my vocabulary, and thus emerged this series Sublime Forms.”

What a series! Dedicated, painstaking visual delights each of them, they clearly show the artist as one with her heart exactly where her head is. Her love affair with her work shines through, lighting up the viewing experience.

Careful and dedicated detailing to ensure tensions, balance and rhythm, Guha’s penchant for perfection manifests in the placing of each button, unsparing even in the matter of the cross stitch that secures each to the fabric, maintaining directional consistency in every stitch as the thread runs through the button.

Thick chain stich embroidery forms the core centre of many of the earlier works of the series, forming a sort of low relief carpet centre, usually in velvet black, but at times also in deep red, that make them throb with life. With names such as Nature, Space, Nebula and Origin, Guha yet manages to contain a universe within each work, and there lies their monumentality. It is like entering a vortex, or even a tunnel, to reach the blinding burst of light expected on the other end. The creative force injected into each frame is like a like a life’s journey waiting to begin, a fire throbbing to be ignited to flames.

The geometry is perfect, as is the precision, but the essence of it lies in her imagination and ingenuity in transforming her simple, basic ingredients into works of such exceptional beauty. Rice paper, again colour-coated for the lush look, cut into little circles, carefully placed to imply a sprinkle, gather strength from the subtle pencil outline showing up intermittently in some.

Works of such simplicity would not stand for sub-standard material and Hema Guha, with her penchant for high quality, is unsparing on that count, giving her best in all of method and material. Laudable work, deserving wide visibility and appreciation!