‘Wooden Horse’ – a self-portrait is a body of work by Manu Singh which speaks of hope, achievement and possibilities in the face of uncertainty, highlighting the turbulent world we all live in.
The series ‘Wooden Horse’ came about when she was commissioned to paint for a children’s charity show. She was reminded of her childhood companion the wooden horse, on which she could travel to various magical imaginary destinations.
The wooden horse had all kinds of powers; he could fly, he could swim, there was nothing he couldn’t do – he wasn’t limited by the restrictions we as adults place upon ourselves.
As adults, key emotions such as love, appreciation and kindness are sometimes coloured by self-limiting beliefs like jealousy, the fear of rejection, and the need to get ahead. Her paintings urge one to introspect and let go of these. In her paintings, the wooden horse symbolises the self, the backdrop is at times the sky, the ocean or even the earth, giving one a sense of vastness.
For instance, in the painting titled Wooden Horse – a selfportrait, she examines the concept of the self. Striving for perfection based societal standards, self-doubt, fear of rejection, genuine happiness and a state of contentment are all investigated. In doing so, she encourages one to challenge their perception of the self, which is usually, a sum of one’s individual experiences.
‘Nailed Shadow’ is another example of being tied to a painful reality or an idea. Here again, she comments on how the human mind perceives a situation to be larger than what it really is. The option of moving away or staying on is always present. Her mastery in the use of colour is illustrated in ‘Survivour- Two Worlds’, which depicts two skies – a stormy sky at the bottom and a calmer golden sky on top. It is the merging of two separate worlds really. This painting is an extension of Rooted Boat, which is a comment on how the world perceived and reacted to the migrant crisis of Europe in 2015. Over a million migrants and refugees crossed into
Europe, which led to a crisis, and as a result, some countries decided to shut their borders, causing a vast number of refugees to be displaced. Her artworks, mostly figurative, have surrealistic qualities. She experiments with different media and uses familiar imagery such as figures and everyday objects to produce the desired effect. Every artwork with its profound message leads one to reflect upon key emotions and beliefs.
When: November 30 – December 10
Where: Shridharani Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam
Timing: 11AM - 7PM