In her new body of works at Tao Art Gallery, titled What a Body Remembers and curated by Lina Vincent Sunish, contemporary Indian artist Seema Kohli shows a renewed commitment to the idea of feminine energies − but has a self-reflective turn and asks what relationship is established with her works. She presents 35 zinc plate etchings on paper titled Memoirs, a collection of works done over a period of several years − her memories while growing up, the images, objects, environment and people which influenced her.According to the curator, What a Body Remembers is a compilation of recent works by Kohli that embody a symbiotic relationship between the self and the cosmos.

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Born in 1960, Seema Kohli has, through the visual language of art, tried to grasp the metaphysical truth of existence and the cosmic energy that is responsible for all creation. For this celebrated Indian woman artist, art is a philosophical engagement with the enquiry of life. Her creative repertoire is eclectic and covers various mediums encompassing graphics, ceramics, murals, installations, sculpture, printmaking and the performing arts. Kohli’s work has redefined the basic contours of figurative art in India. A visual storyteller, she weaves stories that are not autobiographical but deeply personal. These have been showcased in over 30 solo shows – in Venice, Basel, Brussels, Melbourne, London, New York, Dubai, Singapore as well as in Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru

 

Over several decades of artistic practice, the artist has developed a unique language; her visual vocabulary is associated with altering hierarchies within the corporeal, cognitive and subconscious states, communicating both imaginary and abstract impressions. The grids that exist between the sacred and secular, reality and fantasy, performance and documentation, objectivity and subjectivity, action and passivity are negotiated, stories are told and memories are resurrected.The current exhibition traverses some of the most significant cusps of Kohli’s journey, of which Hiranyagarbha (The Golden Womb) set her off on a path where she moved away from limiting labels of feminism (in its Western construct as being obstructionist) to declare the universe as female, the womb of all creation, the seed of birth, the dot into which everything converges.

       

But even more than these contextual subtexts is her use of mediums that include her luminescent acrylics on canvas with gold leaf that leaves them glowing – a technique one associates with her. But here, too, the delightful twist for the exhibition includes her drawings and works on paper − those building blocks of an artist’s work that are rarely shown, but which reveal not just drafting skills and the way the eye moves, the fingers capture, but also the heart and soul of a painter’s universe.The sacred and the secular intersect in Kohli’s work, just as every being is an amalgamation of yin and yang, positive and negative, man and woman. There is no conflict of gender, as her expression crosses all barriers. The canvases are based on the heightened state of life, which we are all aspiring for − the birds, angels, gandharvas or our breath that becomes air as soon it breaks away from the physical forms. Above all, it’s her colours that speak…as they are reflective of inner peace, vibrating with the rhythm and joy of life

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