Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Subtlety from the ordinary - review by Martha Jakimowicz for Deccan Herald

It is primarily from the tactile matter of mundane materials and things that art has to construct evocations of intangible sensations, recognitions and reflections. As a result of art-making, the concrete and singular transforms into the abstracted and generalised "defying gravity", Sofie Haesaerts's exhibition at 1 Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery (November 7 to 14), indeed, was a visual metaphor and lyrical suggestion of this phenomenon along with its processes.

The Belgian artist, who spent a month of residency at the studio, conjured a sculptural environment using ordinary, locally sourced objects of utility as her basis, mostly furniture or its parts, which at the same time retained some of their original character while turning into images-indications-expressions of Haesaesrts's comment.

On entering the space, one faced a photograph of an Indian woman's eyes by the side of three wooden reapers that, leg-like, rose from the ground to rest on the wall. Initially one may have found it difficult to understand without explanation that Haesaerts was contrasting and linking the horizontal foundation of habituated perception to the verticality of art that sublimates and uplifts it. Nevertheless, the art works together added to a varied accent on movement upwards from the ground or suspension above as well as transposition.
Whole and fragmented pieces of tables and such were often brightly painted and placed in ways contrary to their functions, multiplied and fragmented, so becoming something else.

The apparently simple, playfully aesthetic effect acquired certain rudimentary seriousness, as the employment of traditional Channapatna lacquering craft provided a bridge between the industrial and the artistic.

A table placed upside down with large, rectangular volumes of different heights, slender, tall towers piled from little, smooth elements and a miniature arrangement of jutting out pencils created abstract, carefully studied compositions. A chain of red, bangle-like rings in mid air and a vertical sequence of bindis, too, suggested rising and hovering in an abstract manner.

On the other hand, identifiable objects, like clothes stands, were handled so as to hint at a nearly organic, arching transformation of the vertical and horizontal.

The concreteness of this state in the happening was again made general or essential in the piece shaped of glistening steel tubes which, avoiding reference to a utilitarian role, demonstrated a dynamic mediation diagonally between the horizontal and the vertical.

The impact of unassuming lightness that combined minimalist-wise formulated, basic, rough qualities with formal elegance was a desired trait here, sometimes bringing poetic evocations of thought about art processes but sometimes perhaps remaining a little literal.

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