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Whispers of Fragility

My Indian Husband Part 46, 1997 2007, pencil, ink, watercolor and gouache on Lucky Parchment paper, 28 x 41 cm 11.0 x 16.1 in.

NICOLA DURVASULA RETURNED TO MUMBAI AFTER A GAP OF 8 years - her last solo in the city was at Gallery Chemould in 2000. She showed at Sakshi Art Gallery (Life is But a Dream: Part VID from March 6th to 21st and then participated in Three Points of View, at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, showing alongside Reena Saini Kallat and C.K. Rajan from March 26th to April 22nd.

The titles of the 30 odd paper works (or painted drawings) displayed in the cavernous rooms of Sakshi Art Gallery were quite appealing - ranging from the Murakami-esque Solid Land and the Weight of the World to my personal favourite 000000000000 (Twelve Zeroes), they encouraged the viewer to wonder about Durvasula's imaginary wonderland. The works, however, were restricted by their sizes and colour-schemes. Barely there, seemingly unsure lines lent the drawings an air of fragility, while stronger outlines and the use of gouache contradicted this delicateness, defining the quirky content that was drawn from Eastern and Western legends. Durvasula toyed with the viewer, her faint lines creating optical illusions - was the woman portrayed in Swift Minds turning away from or turning towards her androgynous lover? The eyebrows, noses and postures of her figures were reminiscent of Oriental icons (with violet and red backgrounds in some cases adding to the effect). The lack of variation, however, led to a kind of tedium - the paintings were rendered in Durvasula's tried-and-tested style and featured abstract figures in limbo, on pale paper, in similar sizes, and ran the danger of getting lost in the high-ceilinged gallery.

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