AN OPEN-ENDED EXPERIENCE

June 21, 2012

 

Mumbai-based artist Laila Khan Furniturewalla is currently exhibiting her recent work with Agora in Chelsea, New York , from June 12, 2012 to July 3, 2012. The exhibition is titled Pulse of Abstraction.

Pulse of Abstraction is a collection of artworks notable for their beautiful, innovative form of communication. Each image has its own rhythm, its own captivating beat, as the dynamism of its form and color takes over and takes the audience along for an unforgettable visual experience. The artists fill their creations with honesty and enjoyment, leaving us to marvel at the results.

Other reputed international artists who are showcasing with Laila Khan at the same exhibition are Adka, Sharon Brill, Michelle Chu, Donna Howard, Christine Jaksch,  Allen Jones, Lori Koprowski, Todd Krasovetz, Sandra McRae, and Kamil Sarnowski.

Artist Laila Khan Furniturewalla’s work is centered around the feminine predicament, the iconic notion of femininity versus the emotive richness, depth, and complexity that come to define a woman’s true inner life. In her art, the artist strives to transform the complexities of the female figure into harmonies of simplified forms with an undercurrent of expressionistic intensity, thereby revealing “the innate reality, the life force, the spirit, the inherent symbolism, and the underlying remarkable structure to give emphasis to form with the greatest clarity.”

In her most recent work, Laila has moved from oils to painting mostly in acrylics, with a predominant use of gold pigment and gold leaf.

In each piece, muted, seductive colors and taut compositions speak of the mysteries that surround the feminine, both in terms of physical beauty and the elusive female inner world. Powerful symbolism in the form of Hindu gods and goddesses wends its way into her work as well, sometimes subtly, while other pieces focus solely on the power of such deities as Ganesh or Shakti. But dominating her art forms is a great ambivalence within her figural subjects, who reveal as they conceal and ultimately tease the viewer, promising a glimpse both of the highest divinity and the depths of utter human devastation.

 “Each time I make a painting,” says Laila Khan, “I celebrate the life I love and the beauty I know.” The artist’s representations of that life and beauty often take the form of portraits of women. In her portraits, women’s faces can be seen as symbols of various emotional states. Laila calls her images “mirrors of internal struggles, self doubts, dilemmas with one’s own personality and the final conflict of being an artist and a woman.” The artist says her women are “full of life yet trapped in doll-like lifelessness,” and her paintings vividly depict that sense of conflict.

But Khan’s images communicate more than the struggles that the artist speaks of. There is a mystical sensibility operating in them as well, perhaps most strongly apparent in the paintings from her series devoted to the Hindu deity Ganesh. “I was awed by the power of Ganesh’s image,” she says, “and wanted to represent this deity through my art.” And quite suitably, the paintings in that series have a spiritual depth and a meditative energy that gives her works a feeling similar to that found in religious icons. Part of Khan’s distinctive color scheme has its roots in the materials she uses. The artist’s palette now includes gold pigment and gold leaf that reflect back at the viewer like mirrors. But as the golds reach out to us, drips of white and areas of dark colors pull us back in. Just like the women they depict, these paintings conceal and reveal at the same time, offering the viewer an open-ended experience.

That potential is also reflected in the artist’s decision to not title her works. “Titles impose direction, constriction and limitations,” she says. “The picture itself can speak a thousand words, so why does one need titles?”

An artist since childhood, Laila Khan trained in Fine Art at the Slade School of Art in London, UK. She held her first solo show at the Visual Art Gallery, New Delhi and has held numerable shows since then. She then studied creative and expressive painting at the St. Martin’s School of Art and Design, London, UK. There, under the tutorage of Ewa Gargulinski, a renowned artist whose works are in many important collections, she learnt how to achieve limitless creativity in the visual expression of self, using painting as a medium. Her work has been included in many auctions, charitable causes, fundraisers, group shows in India and abroad and is held in many esteemed private collections.