High tide for a blue moon in Mumbai

Ranjani Shetter’s dexterity with line and angle and freestanding form have earned her comparisons to Venezuelan Modernist artist Gego and place in prominent museums worldwide, among them the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This is strangely her first major exhibition in Mumbai, featuring several works that have never been shown in India before (Shettar says that’s mostly due to lack of art institutions in the country).

That much of it is pulled from the sinewy lines of nature is evident in the way in which her material is shaped (everything curved and softly flowing) and the works hung to appear as if they sprung entirely naturally from the museum walls. In “Scent of a sound”, for instance, a mobile of stainless steel wrapped in muslin and bound by tamarind paste drops from the ceiling in an explosion of leaf and flower, casting shadowy patterns on the walls around. In the corner, jutting brown leaves creep up the wall like fungus on a bark. More beautifully enmeshed in the Bhau Daji Lad’s own rich Renaissance-like interiors is “Lagoon”, drooping wreaths of baingan shaped-beads in colours like indigo, aqua, purple, mauve and navy that appear like apt extensions of the museum’s own blue patterned ceilings. As you leave the room, to the right, a smaller meditation awaits: a wedge of damaged rosewood dotted with moss green lacquered beads, titled enigmatically and ambiguously “Remanence from last night’s dream”. It is there, placed mid-wall, like a fragment of something better, something fleeting that is barely remembered.

Till feb 17

“Lagoon” (2010). Photo courtesy of Talwar Gallery, New York/New Delhi.

Courtesy The Hindu

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