As British artist Angus Pryor squats on the floor of Visual Arts Gallery in New Delhi, drawing colourful swastikas on his canvas, it’s hard to believe that he is the director of School of Arts, Medway at the University of Kent in UK. He looks as much at ease working on his new works inspired by “his cultural connect with India” as he is explaining the other works in the show he has curated titled Critical Narratives in Colour And Form that will be on at Visual Arts Gallery starting next Tuesday.
While the exhibition is part of a two day workshop-cum-seminar that has been organised by art curator Dr Alka Pande, who is also the director of Visual Arts Gallery, for Pryor the connect with India is nothing new. “I have been travelling to India for many years now and I found that there is a strong similarity in our practice of storytelling through art,” says Pryor. The exhibition that boasts of British artists like Mavernie Cunningham, Jez Giddings, William Henry, Mark Howland, Chris Hunt and Aya Mouri, hence, places a deliberate emphasis on painting and print making — essentially a wall-based, two dimensional practice — which was and continues to be an essential part of Indian art practice.
In Pryor’s work, all kinds of objects find their place on the canvas — birds, toys, leaves and vegetables. Interestingly, the work that he is creating in Delhi is inspired by Mughal art traditions. “I wanted to make a female portrait the central figure and then place various motifs and objects around it. These objects will be inspired by my travels in India, especially in the metro.”
Writer and artist David Minton succinctly reviews Pryor’s work in these words: “The Deluge is a painting on a painting. Foliage and ripples are evident, and maybe sky. Pryor gathers his image toward the centre of the canvas, hemming it in with angular brackets. The detritus of the deluge floats, here a ladder, there a tin can, some leaves, a writhing ochre shape. Our desires stare at us from the paintings; colours seduce, paint often like skin, unreflective, soft. In Love and Death, the browns, blacks, golds, encourage a frisson of unease.”
The other artists in the show also use the narrative form like Mavernie Cunningham, in her woodcut and lino prints, deals with interpretation of genre, Jez Giddings explores aspects of memory, loss and absence, William Henry’s work Strung Out is a play on human condition, Mark Howland comments on changing landscapes, Christ Hunt juxtaposes purity of colour and form to expression and Aya Mouri’s melancholic portraits are stories of struggle and hope drawing on Japanese culture.
(Poonam Goel is a freelance journalist who contributes articles on visual arts for unboxedwriters.com)