When one is constantly looking at and interpreting art in Vadodara, one must admit that this suite of water colour paintings by Santiniketan-trained artist Mahula Ghosh surely comes as a breath of cool, fresh air. The subtle delicacy of stroke-play, the gentle layering of translucent images one atop the other, the sharp edge of threatened or actual violence hovering palpably in the environment, the surprising stroke of iridescent gold, re-define the meaning and nature of water colours and lift them to a heightened level of seriousness.
Subtlety is the most significant and interesting element that informs these water-colours. In addition to the paint strokes, Mahula’s use of line is emphatic, the drawing coming out strong and vibrant wherever it is used. The colour shimmers on the paper, allowing for tonal layering to create an extra dimension. The artist’s visual language in the works on display in this exhibition straddles both the abstract and the figurative, and does so with a flamboyance that is mature and confident. In works like “Burn” Mahula also uses bits of paper that are glued on the surface of the painting and then ripped off to leave tell- tale marks much in the nature of healed scars.
The titles of the paintings are suggestive (Stain, Burn, Wounds) and offer a clear insight into the artist’s concerns, which are essentially fuelled by the aftermath of terrorist attacks and the horrific nature of terror itself no matter who the perpetrator. While the artworks do not directly portray the actual act of violence, her paintings capture the poignancy, devastation, and futility that every kind and nature of the violent act leaves behind, whether it is wrought by man against man or by man against nature. The physical ‘wounding’ is thus abstracted into a metaphysical reality on paper.
Mahula Ghosh has dedicated this exhibition to the memory of the late Somnath Hore. The artist and his work has had a tremendous influence on Mahula’s artistic development as a student at Santiniketan and in later years as a practicing artist. She exhibits a sensibility to form and colour that is reminiscent of Hore’s work but as a talented artist, she has been able to evolve and work upon her own visual idiom. As a result, Mahula’s work has a power and strength that it has received organically from within, and comes across as deeply meaningful and moving.
Baroda, October 2007
Mahula Ghosh (born 1973), took her Masters in Fine Arts From Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan in 1996. She was artist-in-residence at Kanoria Centre for the Arts, Ahmedabad in 1999 and was awarded Junior Fellowship, from department of Culture, Govt. of India for 2000-2002. Her solo show, “Timescape”, was held at Chitrakoot Gallery, Kolkata, in 2004, and a docu-film she made on a painted sail-boat on the Ganga at Varanasi was also screened at Chitrakoot Gallery in 2003. She has participated in prestigious Group Shows such as “Generation Next”, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi and Royal College of Art, London as part of “Emerging India”, 2007, “Making History our