Many of us have grown up with the charming innocence of Enid Blyton books. Now, a young artist will dedicate her new exhibition to the author whose writings have inspired many generations of youngsters. Titled ‘The Enchanted Forest’, the show by Bhavna Sonawane will be exhibited by Apparao Galleries at the Magnolias in Gurgaon, starting this week.
The sun and the moon shine through Sonawane’s works in more ways than one. She uses gold and silver foil in her paintings that instantly evoke a world of fantasy. The works are peppered with a make-believe city and landscapes that she draws from the very inner recesses of her mind. Her first job of teaching children perhaps allowed her the confidence to use this style.
In her current exhibition, she explores the fringes of forests and small towns. In her own way she is also referring to the current concerns of global warming and trying to spread awareness and respect for nature.
The tree, the life giver and the preserver of the planet, is often reduced to a mere decoration. In many new cities of the world, trees are not part of an architectural plan as they were decades ago.
Using elements of fantasy in her ethereal works, Sonawane combines architecture with nature. She paints the idyllic setting of a memory, a fantasy, an illustration of a desire and perhaps a utopian Shangrila.
In her exploration of nature, the artist brings out sublime colours with controlled lines and shows a remarkable control over technique. She uses lustrous layers that enhance the visual effect and create a dreamlike quality in her work. Her trees are expressed as an ever-expanding network of branches against a background depicting sky and earth as one.
Sonawane was born in 1978 to a middle class family, her parents were both university lecturers of science. It’s natural then that she turned her father’s interest in biology into a love of nature and her mother’s knowledge of physics into abstract patterns of interconnection. Her paintings of trees symbolise emergence and growth; her cityscapes, positive energy and the urge to survive. Hobbies of classical dance and music lead her to a rhythmic sense of composition. Her other inspirations are handicrafts, in particular kantha textiles. She graduated from the prestigious J J School of Art in Mumbai with first class honours in 2002 and taught art for a couple of years. Yet, the exhibition is by no means a children’s exhibition and instead is meant as a perfect escape for anysone.
Her paintings give you a sense of serenity and calm in an otherwise bustling metropolis.
(Poonam Goel is a freelance journalist who contributes articles on visual arts for unboxedwriters.com)