Sahaya Sharma’s canvas manifests many of her quotidian reveries. Speaking the language of intimacy, they project the artist’s deep-seated introspections. There are hues of loss and pain, of uncertainly and discomfort, isolation and loneliness, but also love and compassion, joy and gratitude, altruism and affection. They’re all camouflaged by strong pigments that present an ambiguous state. It’s Sharma’s ‘ways of being’, and through her latest eponymous exhibition, she lets some of those emotions get an outlet.
There is a large amount of ambivalence in her art. It requires ruminative introspection. “The emotions and experiences are hidden in the flesh of the painting. They don’t spell out what I was feeling, but instead, try and make the viewer feel for themselves,” she says, adding, “Ways of being for me, means a state of utopia and dystopia.”
Every impression you see on the canvas is a recall from the past, her growing up time specially. From then to now, the journey has been both beautiful and horrific. For a highly sensitive person like her, the sensitivity has been a boon in an artistic sense but a bane in the real world. “I’ve got an elephantine memory and can go back to encounters that date a long time back. So yes, I feel emotions in a prismatic and vivid way, and I’ve depicted some of them in this show” says Sharma.
She is just like any other person with dreams and desires and a whole lot of determination to make them come true. But Sharma lives by one principle that many don’t, and that’s the audacity of honesty. As she opens up to us about her struggles of belonging and loss from childhood to now, we find how effortlessly sincere she. “Belonging has to be one of the most abstract concepts. Who do you belong to? Yourself? Your parents? Your friends? Yours institution? Your profession? To no one? To everyone?,” she questions. The answers lie in art, she believes.
Every now and then, she seeks refuge in her psychotherapist, who has helped Sharma understand the psyche at great depths. In a unique way, her art and therapy are inter-connected. The exchange is so powerful that the artist documents it through her work. For example, in the Banjara Mandala series, she has made a visual lexicon based on the six basic human needs. Material used are symbolic of the needs.
To symbolise love and connection, she uses mirror sequins which is a personification of having someone mirror your mind. Certainty and safety are shown through cowrie beads that were modes of money in traditional India. Uncertainty is displayed through sequins, to show that, just like sequins scatters easily everywhere, so do emotions when there is uncertainty.
Caught in a labyrinth of emotions, she has disguised them with jaunty colours. The journey is completely inward and colour oriented. For instance, her obsession with the colour blue, began when she visited fashion designer YSL’s home, Jardin Majourelle, in Marrakech. She was introduced to the most glorious blue pigment patented as International Klein Blue, the colour of his home. “My attachment to the colour got so intense that I even dyed my hair the same shade,” says Sharma.
It’s these kinds of associations that the artist wraps herself with. It’s through them that she breathes, and it’s in them that she suffocates too. But the pleasure and pain…they’re all hers.
September 17: 11 am to 7 pm, Gallerie Roman Rolland, Alliance Française, 72 Lodhi Estate.