The word nest has come to stay with us, denoting a shelter, a home, a place of comfort, security and independence. It’s a place to return to. This ‘return’, this coming back home has a special significance, which reveals the importance of home, the nest as we know in many literary shades—gharonda, baserā, nīḍ, ghar as we refer to it in Hindi.
Our main concern and intent for this show was not only the physical house, but it’s metaphorical potential and also the spiritual realisation one may get from the usage of the home. It does not matter at what time, at what juncture, one examines the idea of the home. It will always be relevant. The home, a place often associated with generational identity and familial bond, at times also becomes a retreat and a refuge where one finds a place to meditate, think, and work solitarily as well.
Each work gets entrenched into the mind of the viewer with clarity, contagious energy and articulates a certain ineffable ‘truth’. The works in this show voice certain anxieties regarding the home, yet, all of them carry a certain prayer for it. This significantly makes this show a manifestation of an invocation for peace, order, and solace, presented with a visual treat of a rare kind.
Anindita Bhattacharya, In a Grain of Sand..., 2020Variable Size
Jayashree Chakravarty, Expanded Roots, 201950 x 69 inches
Nilima Sheikh, Dreaming Home 2, 202020 x 27 inches
Nilima Sheikh, Dreaming Home 3, 202019.5 x 27 inches
Nilima Sheikh, Erased Homes 5, 202016.5 x 25 inches
Pooja Iranna, Pervasive Mushrooming 11, 202015 x 6.5 x 3 inches
Pooja Iranna, Pervasive Mushrooming 12, 202012.5 x 7.5 x 3 inches
Pooja Iranna, Pervasive Mushrooming 13, 202011 x 8 x 3.5 inches
Pooja Iranna, And Time Passed By 1, 2020Variable Size
Pooja Iranna, And Time Passed By 1, 2020Variable Size
Sudhir Patwardhan, Morning, 202034 x 43 inches
Sudhir Patwardhan, Afternoon, 202027 x 18 inches
Sudhir Patwardhan, Evening, 202027 x 21 inches
Suneet Ghildial, Time and Life Series, 202060 x 60 inches
Suneet Ghildial, Time and Life Series, 2020Variable Size
Yashwant Deshmukh, Home-Land, 202027 x 48 inches
Yashwant Deshmukh, City Scape, 201736 x 48 inches
Yashwant Deshmukh, Courtyard, 201612.5 x 12.5 inches
Yashwant Deshmukh, Untitled, 201620 x 14.25 inches
Art That Inspires Thought
The word nest has come to stay with us, denoting a shelter, a home, a place of comfort, security and independence. It’s the place to return to from the workplace, from travels, and from any outing one might have taken. This ‘return’, this coming back to home has a special significance, which again reveals the importance of the home, the nest as we know in many literary shades—gharonda, baserā, nīḍ, ghar as we refer to it in Hindi.
One of the major writers in Hindi, S. H. Vatsyayan ‘Ajneya’ wrote, “घर लौटनेके लिए होता हैं”. A home is a place meant for return. By saying this, he does not exclude the fact that home is primarily a space for living, rather he recognises its inherent charm, looking beyond its tangible material benefits—adding one more dimension to it, the address. Home gives us an address, an identity, a heightened sense of belonging. An address which not only receives the mails and posts sent to us—from someone from somewhere, but also receives us, welcomes us, time and time again. We come back to it for rest, nourishment, solace and for the love it offers, in terms of family, friends, and neighbours—who know that the person who dwells here, has come back, and he is one of us, we know him, he is not to be turned away.
One can go on citing many examples of how the nest has not just been a necessity, but a passion, an obsession for most creatures including man. And in all the arts, especially in architecture, in sculpture, in painting, the theme of the nest has been imagined, recreated, and collaborated in various ways.
We thought of this show, The Nest, in the light of all this, and invited artists to decode the theme and delve into the core of the nest, the way they like, on figurative or non-figurative terms. And we are very happy to share our feeling after receiving the works that each work has enchanted us, and brought us the theme in the most conspicuous terms. The concept has been treated wondrously, and each work in itself offers a space to meditate upon.
We know that nest is primarily attributed to birds, who fulfil this job superbly, making homes to satisfy their bare necessities, in a most meticulous manner. Perhaps taking a clue from them, man has moved many steps further. And from the caves to modern-day architecture, we find thousands of examples of houses built using a variety of materials, techniques, and designed remarkably. However, our main concern and intent for this show was not only the architecture part of the home. Our emphasis was on getting the feel of the experiences of living in the home, its metaphorical potential and also the spiritual realisation one may get from the usage of the home.
We had thought of the show much before Covid-19, and the ensuing lockdown. But the intent of the concept definitely got more intensified along the way, and we believe that most of the works ‘bear’ some marks of the pandemic period, when lakhs were seen travelling on foot, by bicycle, other means of transport, or the lack of it, their destination being the home, the nest.
And those who were locked at home were also re-thinking, re-evaluating home in a very different way, at a different level altogether. The idea that a home is a place where one can return had turned into home being the place where one has to return.
It does not matter at what time, at what juncture, one examines the idea of the home. It will always be relevant.
The home is always with us—whether we are living there, or it’s living in us—lingering in our memories, or ingrained in our subconscious. The nest of the bird has an environ. It may be placed on a tree, a window, cornice, or the balcony of a house. Similarly, man-made houses also have their environs—trees, electric poles or other structures nearby. Our homes have some ‘paraphernalia’ that accumulate in our mind over time. There are houses near ponds, lakes, rivers, seas, hemmed in by forests, or erected on the top of hills. Such environs, such paraphernalia attached to a house enter into the concept of home itself making its interior and exterior equally significant.
The home, a place often associated with generational identity and familial bond, at times also becomes a retreat and a refuge where one finds a place to meditate, think, and work solitarily as well.
In this show, Sudhir Patwardhan has captured the essence of ‘solitary nesting’ in his works. One of his figures sits hunched and pensive on a sofa, engrossed in ‘creating’ its own image, and reflecting on it. The intensity of the thought process is evident on other figures and faces that are suggestive of the aesthetics of the mundane. The meditative space created here, especially in the work done in pastel, starts a thought process in the mind of the viewer. One cannot but brood over this space as well as the postures and positions of the figures.
Most of the works presented here can easily be labelled as “art that inspires thought”. We find that without laying emphasis on the façade, the artists have gone straight into the core of the home itself, conceptually, visually, emotionally. The physical part of the home has been put on hold and the very idea of home has taken over.
Pandit Khairnar’s works have only a slight resemblance to a constructed home. Our gaze falls on the deep, dense square against the backdrop of a light-toned surrounding, representing an emotive ‘portal’ and is superbly in communion with the idea of home. These works make us think of the memoirs, dreams and reflections we might be carrying with us of a home. They also assert the presence of geometrical forms in our deeds and actions, which we may or may not consciously notice.
Yashwant Deshmukh offers some intriguing images of the home. The earthen grey forms in his work “Home-Land” are accentuated by a tinge of glow suggestive of a home’s never-extinguishing warmth and cackle. Deshmukh’s home also seems to carry some distant echoes of prayers, perhaps addressed to some household/ancestral deities, and it strikes a chord with the architectural language of rural homes.
As we have mentioned earlier, the very concept of the home, the nest, can be explored through a wide range of lenses. Pooja Iranna’s sculptures created using staple pins and cement, explore the surreal, (often vacant) towering skyscrapers and high-rises which have mushroomed across today’s urban landscape. One would find these works even more relevant after Covid-19. She herself says,“These days the architectural spaces without the inhabitants are looking just like my visual canvas. For the first time, we are able to experience the expansion of cities, the concrete jungle that we have built of ourselves, much of which was never needed or could have been avoided.” Her work, I believe can easily give a ‘pinch’ to the viewer, by revealing the existential hollow and superficiality of modern life despite the dizzying pace of progress.
Rajendra Tiku sculpts poetry by succinctly using a variety of materials he finds suitable for the theme. He weaves his thoughts in and around using twigs and threads, exploring home as a transient, corporeal being. The images he creates sensitize us towards the use of materials as well as the expressions and the thought process of the artist, to a large extent. So, one may get the ‘feel’ that certain images of the nest are being restored here, from across the thresholds of the past and present. One can freely interpret these images, on one’s own frame of mind and terms, while also navigating through the signs and symbols used by the sculptor, and then reaching the ultimate ‘image’ which has been offered to them. Each image, each work gets entrenched into the mind of the viewer with clarity, contagious energy and articulates a certain ineffable ‘truth’.
Nilima, who has also been working on the theme of migrants, renders the theme home with an impressive stance. There is a sense of a certain displacement, the process of migrating itself—both geographically and historically—in her work. The symbols and metaphors in Nilima’s images give the feeling of a certain break, and then a movement. The figures and the tonal combinations reflect the ceaseless toil of those shouldering the brick and mortar of our civilization, but themselves are often homeless, inadequately housed or displaced. There’s a silent humanitarian prayer in all her works.
Yes, the nest, the home itself always prays for the well-being of its dwellers, in fact for the whole world, the shristi, the cosmos. This is quite natural and desired. The works in this show voice certain anxieties regarding the home, yet, all of them carry a certain prayer for it. This significantly makes this show a manifestation of an invocation for peace, order, and solace, presented with a visual treat of a rare kind.
Some artists have chosen to interpret this theme through colours and lines in a lyrical and soothing way, as Suneet Ghildial tends to do by vibrating the pictorial space using dense and soft colours, in a monochromatic yet contrasting manner of tonal variations. The folding and unfolding forms, signs and signifiers come alive to uplift our mood and to engage us in the thought process.
All is not well with the urban or even the rural home in our times. Just as birds are losing their natural habitats, our home has also become largely bereft of the blessings of nature. Manisha Gera Baswani tells this tale with stray feathers gliding past, giving way to the uninhabited space, creating powerful imagery with ‘pin incisions’ of feathers—done in watercolour. She also opens up a new visual language, where the pictorial space and the images become ‘one’ to express and to help contemplate home, and its environs together.
The nest, the home in terms of material, has also been seen apart from its inner core in a cohesive way, creating a certain warmth and energy. By using different materials, Jayashree Chakravarty has created a meaningful dimension of the home, and her image is evocative of the glory, the charm, the essentials of the nest. Her work “Expanded Roots” conveys a longing for rest and permanency associated with home, interestingly obtained through the imagery of movement and growth.
Intricately weaving her images, Anindita Bhattacharya, creates a world where we see different creatures, flowers and buds, rolled into one, fierce and alive. She explores the home to its very core, down to its throbbing nucleus. The bright, colourful images, in fact, are there to tell different tales as well. And this can be said about all the works, as they cannot easily be pinned down to just a few connotations or associations.
The best thing would be to be with them, indulge in their breathing spaces, and their process of subtly demonstrating the sensitive issues of the theme, resulting in some profound statements, and narrations.
And of course, one cannot miss the prayers, which have been offered through the works, to consolidate and to assemble the aesthetics, behind the very creative act as well.
Art Critic & Poet
- 02. 2021
Threshold Art Gallery, New Delhi
C-221, Sarvodya Enclave
New Delhi- 110017