Madhvi Subrahmanian's shadows
As curator, writer, thinker, and philosopher with an environmental aura, Madhvi's works hinged on the makeshift gallery walls like organic elements of a larger relic, hoary and haunting images that meld and slowly pool in our irises
At Breaking Ground in Jaipur, Madhvi Subrahmanian's three walls created out of stoneware, projections of light and shadow materials became an interactive soliloquy for art lovers to follow and feel the essence of shades and shadows in the art of an installation that can be at once immersive as well as cast a spell on the viewer for a momentous unravelling.
As curator, writer, thinker, and philosopher with an environmental aura, Madhvi's works hinged on the makeshift gallery walls like organic elements of a larger relic, hoary and haunting images that meld and slowly pool in our irises. By no means is this a fanciful analogy. It is the understanding of installation identities and intricacies that made Forest Dreams stand on its own. As an artist, Madhvi transgresses expected gallery reflexes by presenting her images as a summation of evanescent evocations born of a forest; she also prepares us for another strategy, which lies at the heart of this show and that is reverence for nature.
Full of an adroit intensity of experiential wisdom the ceramicist Madhvi breaks away from traditional notions of ceramics. Her explorations into sculptonic identities from referencing a vessel to creating and altering a space into a retinue of memories becomes her leitmotif. Migration and movement become repetitive expressions in her work. The two adjacent walls flanking the central wall are at once a prism of organic, earthy and eco -friendly echoes.
The architectural square grids form a fine balance between contrasting conversations of fragility and strength. The idea of keeping the numbers low and distant from each other make for an imagery that unveils the additive impact of what is emergent. She also seeks a summary of ceramic sculptures creating an ambient that can be relaxed as well as taut.
Forest Dreams with multiple miniatures on the third wall became a contemplation that questioned the dual nature of an environmental existence. Madhvi uses contextuality to hold the abstract nature of her visual imagery in counterpoint. This is not an extraneous factor, but an integral part of her self-expression. What succeeds is the manner in which she integrates visuality and repetition in a dynamic manner, almost like a chant that of patterns within her ceramic canons.
It is significant that the patterns formed by the proliferating miniatures were arranged like a crowd of mushrooms, the accents of an environmental critique an ideology born of a love for nature. It is the universality of ideation that becomes the signature of intent, the wall could be interpreted as markers ruptured by years and even centuries of growth and progression. Madhvi pushes open a closed door from her past and her experience slips out like a memoir. Perhaps it is apt to recall to mind the words of critic and curator Nancy Adjania: "Madhvi is a comrade and co-conspirator of clay; time and gravity are her adversaries. She records the shadows of arrow-shaped roads; time wipes them out. She challenges gravity; she builds high, higher, not out of hubris, but because she knows that "if you push clay against its will, it pushes right back".