Gallery Espace presents 'The Geometry of Error'

Gallery Espace, The Geometry of Error, Mekhala Bahl

New Delhi: Gallery Espace presents The Geometry of Error; a solo show of 14 works that includes five quilted works, five etchings on silk & four canvases by Mekhala Bahl from January 21, 2009 to February 28, 2009 at Gallery Espace, 16, Community Centre, New Friends Colony, New Delhi.

Art Exhibition previously on in India.
From Wednesday 21 January 2009 to Saturday 28 February 2009
Launch Wednesday 21 January 2009, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Pancake  image

Published by anonymous on Saturday 17 January 2009.
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Says Ms. Renu Modi, Director, Gallery Espace: “The exhibition is a culmination of works created by Mekhala in the last two years. With her current body of work, Mekhala explores and incorporates the use of pattern within her large paintings and mixed media works where she scribbles, draws and prints to create visual and emotive layers. As viewers, we have to discard the need to immediately read familiarity into her images, and instead revel in the shapes and colours that seem purged of their recognizable forms.”

Mekhala Bahl was trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, USA, after which she returned to India in 2003 to pursue her individual art practice. She has never restricted herself to single techniques or media and continues working with materials as diverse as glass, wood, silk, paper, plastic and quilting. Her technical oeuvre extends from block printing, etching and lithography, to drawing, painting and sculpture. Her images read like journals recording daily life.

In her current body of work, Mekhala displays an exclusive collection of quilted works along with etchings on silk and canvas, inspired from traveling and observing everyday objects. There is a predominant element of pattern in the work that at times guides the piece and in others simply resides in the background of the work. The use of the comic strip narrative and treatment results in works that appear large, playful and display colours that are unusual to reality and at times appear nostalgic.

Humour is often used to address concerns both personal and those of outward significance. On the same note, elements of collage and quilted sections of the paintings also add another layer and texture to the work, while encouraging the viewer to engage in the work, in a way that they may want to touch the three dimensional puffiness of the foam under the canvas.

The use of chine collé in the fine adhering of the fine silk on the backing surface is unique and gives an ethereal quality to the work. And drawing with the etched line creates marks that have strength in their stroke that is juxtaposed against the fragility of the surface on which they are drawn.

The artist explains: “I was always interested in experimenting with surface textures, whether it was silk, corrugated paper or plastic. I was drawn to the physical feel and appearance that was created by the foam underneath the surface. Quilting gives a bulbous shape and adds another dimension to the artwork. It makes the viewer almost want to reach out and touch the surface of the work and feel the actual softness below it.”

Explaining the title of her show The Geometry of Error, Mekhala Bahl says that her working style depends on intuitive mathematical calculations & games that involve measuring the distance between the marks created on the canvas. It is as simple as the much-cherished dot-to-dot game played during childhood days and yet her pure instinct-based works presents a flawless balance between colours and shapes on the canvas or fabric. For instance, in the work titled Single egg (Oil, ink, acrylic, lead, collage on canvas), the marks are created along the edges of the work only, following an invisible circular path. The order of these could not have been formed in any other way, but the one that exists as the balance and harmony is just right, creating an almost poetic narrative as these shapes dance along their pre-determined path. She also employs humorous anecdotes, memories and dreams in her images that stir the imagination of the viewer in an interesting manner. Her work Cart Strip (Oil, ink, acrylic, lead, collage on canvas), short for ‘cartoon strip’, is one such example that urges the viewer to start reading the work from a point and follow the small drawings to form their own humourous stories.

Mekhala’s work are however only seemingly abstract. They carry concrete images underneath which are usually only hinted at by the title of the work which may also serve as an entry point. For instance, works like Nest, Pancake, Picnic, Single Egg trigger an instant recognition with an idea, or an image. Her work titled NY Chimney (mixed media on quilted silk) explicitly suggests smoke curling out from an awkward building with two chimneys. The initials NY refer to New York City which forms the basis of inspiration of the work. Similarly, in Turn-Turn-Turn (mixed media on quilted silk), she draws a topless car, a swivel chair with hairy legs, croquet bats that play on their own through hoops that fly and many more that may not even be revealed unless they are found by the viewer. Sometimes, the non-abstractness of her work also reveals itself in a series of non-representational shapes that form a narrative. For example, Wooohooo (Oil, ink, acrylic, lead on primed linen) has been created out of spontaneous elation that the artist experiences while making overlapping circular forms, that sometimes seem heavy, other times inflated.

Thus, she repackages the tangible world with ideographs, signs and traces of observed reality. Unstructured and floating, her created world is open to instantaneous suggestion. Her textures have an evocative quality that command a closer look, and appear as independent entities in their own right. Explains Mekhala: “The textures, surfaces and drawings in my works are treated with secretive details, only identifiable from close and these same images transform into simpler shapes, marks and blocks of colour when viewed from a distance. I don’t think it’s necessary for the viewer to know that there are small sketches and imagery that is more recognizable than abstract. I find that my work can be viewed as both, or either.”