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Posted at: Jan 14, 2018, 1:43 AM; last updated: Jan 14, 2018, 1:43 AM (IST)

Between the warp and the weft

Tanya Goel’s works look minutely into the world around

Monica Arora

The first thing that strikes the viewer about Tanya Goel’s work is its sublimity. Her versatility is evident from her range of paintings — the staggering size of some of the art on display, with the canvas measuring about 274x213 cm, which she laughingly dismissed as “back-breaking”, right up to smaller pieces in varied dimensions, say 36x30 cm. Most appear to be a multi-layered and multi-dimensional architectural grid at the first glance, some with numbered units and others deftly compartmentalised, akin to life itself which operates on multiple levels.

The artist, who recently presented her works at Nature Morte Art Gallery in New Delhi, explains how she is deeply affected by the abstract rather than the concrete. It is that moment in between looking at an object or a screen when one’s thoughts pause for a split second. 

The view that captures the eye at that moment is what catches her attention. For instance, she is much inspired by the warp and weft that one encounters in a weaver’s loom and the distance created between each fine thread of cotton or silk is what composes her painting. Her Intersection I, II, II series in red, blue and orange appear as if gazing at a cross-section of a fine Chanderi or Maheshwari saree from your mother’s closet. Such is the intricacy of her work. 

She is intrigued how cities or large dwellings appear as a unit from afar with each having its distinct identity and culture on close inspection. How cities are navigated and rebuilt is another aspect of her work.

The carbon and semitone pieces are a sheer delight to behold owing not just to their phenomenal scale, but also the interesting play of light. Tanya says she loves to play with the intensity and composition of the pigments she deploys and, hence, instead of shop-bought colours, prefers to create her own colour pigments. 

According to her, while standard colours and textures are defined and certain, organic materials such as charcoal, mica, aluminium, glass, graphite, soil and even foils, when amalgamated with her oils, blend into a unique colour and character, completely unique to the artist. And when natural light reflects on each of these portions, defined by a different material, the result is simply awe-inspiring and so sublime.

Considering how contemporary lifestyles revolve around digital media with each one of us staring at some screen or the other all the time, be it the mobile phone, laptop, kindle or notebook, Tanya also explores how the defined space on a screen can actually offer that interesting instant when a thought process is hindered and broken. She says it is also a metaphor for gazing into so many different worlds, all existing within a confined space and framework. Gazing into a space from a threshold and the sights one encounters is the mainstay of her range of curiosity. As she expresses, “I want the eye to rest on nothing.”

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