Vibha Arya's Varanasi-inspired art
Eminent author Mark Twain once wrote, "The holy city of Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together." And yet, the ancient city is progressive, modern, and sometimes regressive.
Delhi based artist Vibha Arya Chaurasia was clearly fascinated by these almost contradictory aspects of Varanasi to launch a series of paintings which are now being put on display early in October in the Capital.
The exhibition "Varanasi through my eyes: Vibha Arya Chaurasia'' is being presented by Gallery Sree Arts and has been curated by Jitendra Padam Jain. It will be held at Galerie Romain Rolland from October 6 – 10.
Vibha has looked at Banaras with some kind of certainty and resolution. But she has not presented Banaras the way a shopper/consumer would. The dweller in the paintings of Vibha, in fact, is an invisible pair of eyes that always stand outside the frame.
She does not accept the critical reading that the eyes make but let them take the form of a godly eye, of Kashi Viswanatha, the manifestation of Lord Shiva in Banaras and becomes a detached witness and also rejoices in the sights and sounds created in order to worship the overlord of the city.
Whenever Vibha paints a Banaras scene she chooses a certain colour to dominate the pictorial format so that the mood of the painting could be established without any doubt. For example, when she paints the ghats, she uses sanguine colors so that the power and immensity of the sunset and the onset of the lamp worship could be explained without words.
In Vibha's paintings, we do not see women's desirable bodies. But she has given them the freedom to move towards a destination; a destination that does not lead to home or hearth but elsewhere. They are not worshippers simply led to the shrine; or rather move towards the shrine willingly.