A grid of 64 small squares. Some are deep with solid colours such as grey, rust and yellow. Others contain geometric shapes, such as rectangles and trapeziums. But together they form art, quirky perhaps, but definitely decoding the inspiration of geometry on abstract features. Math has played muse in the 6’x4’ mixed media piece titled, ‘It Was’, by Nagaswami Ramachandran, showing now at Geometry and Art, an ongoing group exhibition at Apparao Galleries in Chennai.
“I did not want a noun as a name and used this title instead. It displays a sense of permanence. I’m not into strong representations. This work is done in layers. I first applied transparent varnish on a sheet of newspaper before making the grids. I don’t claim to be creative; rather I use available forms to tell a story,” says 47-year-old Ramachandran, who has deployed the grid metaphor to push a minimalistic and conceptual overtone to create a peculiar, undeniable rhythm.
He sees the exhibition, which also features other Tamil Nadu-based artists R M Palaniappan,
P Gopinath, Dhasan and Arvind Sundar, as an ode to his love for mathematics. “I love the subject
in an aesthetic way. When I was a child, I questioned the concept of abstraction, since I believe anything that has a physical form can never be abstract. Hence, I play with the negative space—the space between you and me, and the space in between forms—because it is the most abstract form we encounter daily,” says the artist, who is also inspired by the theory of probability that focuses on different elements combining to take on a specific form. “The permutations and combinations are endless,” he says.
Inspired by the geometric simplicity of S H Raza, Ramachandran’s works, 10 in all at the show, have repetitive patterning and structural integrity as key differentiators. A graduate of the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Chennai, his works, while seemingly minimalist, have a distinct visual idiom that uses segments, slices, shards, slivers and geometric abstractions.
In another work on display, ‘Degree of Certainty’, Ramachandran reiterates that having nothing to say by itself is a context. In ‘Yet-3’, he replaces one of the pigments in the grid with tissue paper. “When I started with the abstract form, I began with the newspaper since I wanted to paint against the background of news about society. If you zoom in, you can see the strokes. This adds a different layer to the work. All my works start with a clear plan, but change during the creative process,” confesses the artist. Art within grids it is, but it does go beyond boundaries.