Overview

One is pulled subconsciously into the scale of Pandit Bhila Khairnar’s recent works on canvas and paper and travel a pathway of memories- feeling the sunshine and shadows of clouds cast on desert or mountains, the crisp cool morning air and hear the sound of a stream running. There is an intuitive feeling about the scale of Khairnar’s large colour field paintings that encourage emotional memories. It gives off enough visual energy to shake the air around it. Trying to make a conversation with his works involves hearing what the space and form is trying to communicate and as you look closer, marks and patterns emerge, endless combinations of arrangements of lines contribute to the tonality of the graphite paper works. Walking through the winter fog or the dust motes of fading sunlight in the dusk is one of the experiences that remain in the subconscious. You see a shadow of some obscure grey objects far off suggesting some kind of shape and that form gets sharper and sharper as you approach. The suggestion of the shape in the mind finally becomes a reality. The mind gets washed away floating between light and shadows trying to find the next thing to hold onto.

Works

Essay

“Between Light and Shadow: Travels Through An Indian Landscape”

New Works of Pandit Bhila Khairnar

2022

 

One is pulled subconsciously into the scale of Pandit Bhila Khairnar’s recent works on canvas and paper and travel a pathway of memories- feeling the sunshine and shadows of clouds cast on desert or mountains, the crisp cool morning air and hear the sound of a stream running. There is an intuitive feeling about the scale of Khairnar’s large colour field paintings that encourage emotional memories. It gives off enough visual energy to shake the air around it. Trying to make a conversation with his works involves hearing what the space and form is trying to communicate and as you look closer, marks and patterns emerge, endless combinations of arrangements of lines contribute to the tonality of the graphite paper works. Walking through the winter fog or the dust motes of fading sunlight in the dusk is one of the experiences that remain in the subconscious. You see a shadow of some obscure grey objects far off suggesting some kind of shape and that form gets sharper and sharper as you approach. The suggestion of the shape in the mind finally becomes a reality. The mind gets washed away floating between light and shadows trying to find the next thing to hold onto.

Khairnar has the ability to understand the nature and the development of his materials in order to immerse himself so deeply that he becomes the material itself. Having the ability to orchestrate the different marks and spaces in a given area becomes crucial as the act of placement of his graphite lines is deliberate and the density of space is totally intuitive. To make each decision during the creative process of art making is such a mysterious act. It is impossible to define each creative move or the decisions that take place in the art making process. As he says, “It is through the expression of the abstract, the real becomes visible!”

Khairnar’s subtle, new graphite works on paper enforce skilful graduated tonal values using horizontal lines to create a strong sense of space and form. Though the horizontal lines suggest distance and calm, the broken lines express the ephemeral or the insubstantial. To be able to capture the sensitivity of a landscape with such economy of means is not only a remarkable testament to the power of line as an expressive force but also an illustration of Khairnar’s outstanding drawing skills. His series of graphite studies lead you through a process of abstraction, refining form, tone and texture to extract the essence of his colour field painting using pure line.  He builds the image layer upon layer until they establish a foreground with a dense tracery of lines and uses it as a device to pull your eye to the illusion of depth created by the work. A deceptive use of perspective in combination with a distracting use of pattern trick us into believing this impossible image. It is an abstract calligraphy of expressive lines drawn on the surface of the paper with an interaction between positive mass and negative space which heightens their spatial drama. In Khairnar’s words, “What’s simple is really complex and this becomes visible for us and emerges only at a later stage, though one begins with this sense of something that’s only abstract in form. This becomes real to us only when it manifests into something cognitive but not necessarily a mirror image of what’s visible to the naked eye.”

Trained at Y.K.M. Aurangabad and later at L. S. Raheja School of Art Mumbai, Khairnar’s artworks are non-naturalistic and non-narrative. By incorporating large areas of color into his works that envelop the viewer, he creates his color field paintings as vistas for introspection and as intermediaries to an aesthetic experience of personal memory. His paintings have no subject other than pure depth itself and both his color field and graphite works on paper depend on subtle illusion. It is painted more from memory than from observation, using the natural fluidity of his medium to mirror the changing mood of the landscape at different times of day using the element of light as a poetic impression. This subversive image holds together a conflict of opposites within its unified structure: day meets night, dark meets light and reality meets the imagination.

The convincing techniques that he uses persuades the viewer to engage with the impossible search for a rational meaning. Khairnar adapts his compositional approach to incorporate a grid-like arrangement, which not only offers him more control over the spatial organization of his work but also referenced natural horizontals and verticals of rural and urban landscape. The influence of the grid underpins the composition of his paper works and gives him a point of reference from which to observe the effects of reconfiguring the elements of a work over a series of images. Khairnar is an uncompromising artist- all the elements of his art live and breathe though a circulatory system of line and color which pulses with expressive energy around and between each component of the composition. As he eloquently says, “Art for me is an emotional response of my perception. Nature is always stable with its properties, but the visible changes are only outer. It is also a complete union of what I understand as a medium, matter, idea and intention of forming a harmonious relation, a narrative of human expression.”

 

 

Kristine Michael

2022

 

 

Venue

Threshold Art gallery

C-221 Sarvodaya Enclave,

New delhi – 110017

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