Anunada, a Sanskrit term literally meaning consequent sound, aptly describes the exhibition presenting two artists whose practice is separated by decades and yet their language of abstraction echoes a similar tone. Like the extreme pillars of a temple mandapam, Rajendra Dhawan (1936-2012) and Pandit Khairnar (b. 1968) uphold a vocabulary of abstraction through the elements of earth, space and colour. Each artist intuiting a method of a contemplative reverberation that also mirrors the other. 


Sound has been one of the core basis of abstraction developed in South Asia. As rhythm, geometry, colour tonality, repetition, sequence – it represents the many nuances of sound – as an alaap, alankara , aroha, avroha. However, none of these aspects of sound-music apply to Dhawan or Khairnar. Their abstraction germinates from that space of silence or void, from which emerges all sound, and thus their works are mainly monotonal, devoid of any form of ornamentation, geometry, sequence or repetition. It is this birthing of sound, an existing resonance in the atmosphere that both the artists unfold in their abstractions. 


Dhawan’s surfaces throb of gestural colour patches, strewn together by merging the edges that naturally forms another colour shade-tone. Primarily shades of brown, grey and ochre, it captures the brushing of air-wind over earth. Spontaneity is the key to apprehend the moment of the indiscernible touch between two contrasting elements of earth and air, solid and gaseous, opaque and transparent, visible and invisible. One cannot discern a land or a landscape with a horizon and perspective, but instead one can feel a subtle movement caused by the friction of the internal rotation of earth with the external current of wind. These contrasting elements are perceived through the scratchy and swift strokes, that echo at times a soft murmur or a loud thud.


Khairnar’s surfaces, on the other hand, are seamless orbits of colour tonalities. Once again reminiscent of earth tones, the translucent canvases refract a subtle effulgence. At moments of dawn or dusk, Khairnar tries to capture the effect of light on earth, at times as a shaded plane of colour or at time a play of shadows swirling through earth dust. Unlike Dhawan’s spontaneous gestural strokes, Khairnar kneads the canvas into colour tones, as one surface of earth-light. Time plays the protagonist here that transmutes the pigment as light and the unheard resonance enriches the canvas with motion. No matter what scale or medium, the works engulf the viewer into a resonant cave that allows contemplation and self-illumination. 


The entire Earth resonates with electromagnetic waves at extremely low frequencies, termed as the Schumann Resonance. Humans cannot hear it but certainly feel it unconsciously. All of existence is resonating at some frequency, creating newer frequencies when collided or merged. Unheard, indiscernible, obscure – it persists hidden within all creation. As the void between mountain peaks, or shafts of light, or the silence within a cave or the crackling of a seed, or sifting of the clouds, or the murmur of the breeze – each bears its own resonant frequency, an anunada which the artist translates as a consequent sound or echo through his innumerable canvases, recreating a resonant field for viewers to experience. 


Jesal Thacker


Curatorial Note

This exhibition has been simmering in my mind for a few years now. Rajendra Dhawan and Pandit Khairnar have very distinct vocabularies, yet, their language resonates with each other. They have not merely stumbled upon an artistic vocabulary; instead, their canvases are an expression of their existential philosophies.

Rajendra Dhawan creates undefined shapes floating in the colourful fields of his canvas, and then, using the function of reduction, like a magician, he peels away layers, reducing them to a deliberate minimalism that guides the viewer through landscapes stripped of visible distractions, a journey into the essence of suggestion.

Pandit Khairnar, on the other hand, cradles the observer in the warm embrace of his palette. The light emanating from within Pandit’s work evokes an emotional response far beyond retinal perception, inviting an unintended contemplation.

‘Anunada: Between Spaces’ follows the artists’ unique trajectories that, through this exhibition, converge in a symphony of profound expression. This also marks their second collaborative endeavour, the first one was in Mumbai, in 2002. It is to their credit and my good fortune that the gallery has had the privilege to host their exhibitions.

– Tunty Chauhan


Threshold Art Gallery

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