Twenty-something Sonali Sonam moved to Delhi from Santiniketan in 2019. Of all the things that she missed, this girl from Bihar could not detach herself from the green expanse of Santiniketan, where she studied art. So, most of her artworks — created in her favourite miniature style — started depicting her love for nature. A collection of these paintings is currently exhibited at Lado Sarai’s Exhibit320.
Titled ‘Citing Beauty — Reimagining the Mundane’, this exhibition showcases works of seven contemporary artists handpicked by curator Rahul Kumar and the gallery owner Rasika Kajaria. The young artists include Khageshwar Rout, Nayanjyoti Barman, Pappu Bardhan, Sonali Sonam, and Suryakanta Swain.
Kumar says they chose the artists first and decided the theme later, “We went around selecting works of artists we would like to show. A common theme came about then — the idea of beauty.”
Discussing the theme further, he mentions, “It is not creating beauty but a matter of chance, finding beauty rather than creating it. And that is common in these works. They’re creating a natural environment and removing insignificant things; what remains is beautiful. Re-imagining the mundane becomes the subline as all of them are looking at their regular environment.”
Artist Suryakanta Swain, who hails from Odisha but now calls Delhi home, agrees. References for Swain’s work include rubbles, rocks, and even discarded cake formed of concrete-mix.
As a migrant from a rural village in Odisha to the metro city of Delhi, the artist witnessed a transition that created a sense of rootlessness in his new urban life.
“I love to showcase my impression of Delhi and how it is changing architecturally. The city is always a work in progress.”
The artist creates a hyper-realistic format with a lot of details using cuts and weaves on the paper.
Another common thread in these 40 artworks is that every one of these artists has explored their roots one way or the other. Artist Sonali Sonam, for instance, creates detailed paintings by referencing the mundane using traditional miniature style.
Kumar says, “What she depicts is the urban landscape but removing the man-made and urban from it; when that happens, it’s all about nature.
For example, if you remove roads and buildings and everything manmade from the city, what’s left is nature.”
Sonam adds, “I missed nature a lot when I reached Delhi to pursue my masters. Thus, my work showcases our natural existing landscapes. I want to create a dialogue using old images but through contemporary visuals.”
Similarly, Nayanjyoti Barman’s inspiration comes from the place of his father’s work, who met with a fatal accident at a thermal power station. Barman experiments with techniques and materials, connecting the rural and urban contexts through his work.
The sculptures use packaging cardboard and jute to depict conflicting narratives, exposing veiled truths and inherent contradictions.