BENGALURU: Cities have a metallic soul of their own. And a 24-year-old artist has tried to capture them on canvas using welded steel rods, mesh, steel plates and resin. Her series titled ‘City and its Sensibilities’ is an abstract view of Indian cities, and a few of these paintings will be part of a group show at 508 Kings Road Gallery, Chelsea. The London-based gallery is known for spotting emerging artists in contemporary art.
Her show is on display at Art Houz until September 16 in the city. Afshana Sharmeen’s mentor and senior artist A V Ilango says that as she grew older, her art and her expressions as an artist also simultaneously matured.Born and brought up in Chennai, Afshana has witnessed the changing cityscape that inspired her to work on this series. She says she has travelled to many cities in India and abroad. “I observe construction in developing countries and have always been fascinated by how cities are changing and evolving,” she adds. Afshana started this series by focussing on the work at Metro site constructions. To her, the site of a train/metro is as alluring, as “a connecting cord of life”.
She then got inspired by the raw materials used in these constructions and tried them in her work. “I use materials such as welded steel rods, mesh and resin to show the chaos in the city,” she says adding that she has included some line drawings too. The lines are drawn prominently to indicate how people still live in harmony in a chaotic city. For example, the coloured blocks in the work Drizzle - II symbolizes buildings. “These buildings are cluttered, they are not on a straight line. I have included some human figures to show them as part of the scene in the city,” she says adding, “No matter where people go, they always belong to their cities.”
The other work “Square” is a conceptual cityscape that represents how Nature is above all. The painting shows crows sitting on a line above the land where the construction is taking place. Both her pieces have been selected for the show in London. She started working on her 3D mixed media paintings last year. She says the challenge was to portray both harmony and chaos in her work. “It couldn’t be all about chaos. I wanted to present an objective view of the city.” It took her at least two days to finish a piece. “I was coordinating with different people such as a carpenter and a welder. So, it would take some time,” she says.
Afshana has a degree in biotechnology but she has always been interested in the arts. She took up training under AV Illango when she was 13. “Oil has always been my favourite medium to work on. I started with landscapes and seascape paintings. I love its texture. But now, I am happy with experimental art,” she says.
She freezes time through her paintings, says mentor
Afshana Sharmeen took training in arts from senior painter A V Illango from the age of 13. Illango recalls how as a school kid, she enthusiastically painted, participated in competitions and won prizes. “Even during her engineering days, while she was pursuing her degree in Biotechnology from Anna University, her interest in the arts never faded,” he says. In this series, she has brought in heavy textures in her paintings to indicate the spaced density in a city. “She focuses on the raw ruggedness of the city’s transformation. It is like she is trying to freeze time through her paintings,” he adds.