February 15, 2017


By MOA Correspondent

Ushmita Sahu calls her drawing based works on paper an introspective assimilation of the mechanics of her mind; a series of open-ended dialogues with the self and the world.  Abstraction helps Ushmita perform certain strategic forms of simplification on space, yielding new imaginary ones. Lines, curves and angles create movement, define voids and explore the concept of transformation and stillness, creating an interface between the internal and external. Linearity and a sense of geometry reflect her penchant for hidden structures. In her mind, the almost architectural spatial divisions in her work stand for human interventions while the floating forms within the structured space, interacting with it, sometimes trapped by it, are possibly representations of the mind and its flow within the infinity it continually tries to grasp.

For inspiration, Ushmita looks to things around her as well as within. From science, nature and architecture, geological formations, celestial events, to theories of space and time continuum, and/or Eastern philosophies that speak of infinite possibilities and alternate realities all are sources of insight for her. At any given time, the artist deals with three kinds of space; the space on the paper, the physical space around her and the mental space inside. Each work is the absorption, transformation and manifestation of the understanding of these three kinds of space. Ushmita feels that each individual work is a whole, as well as part of a larger whole. It also contains endless possible manifestations within itself as well the potential of infinite extension on all sides. Therefore, repetitiveness is a trope she employs deliberately. These drawings become a record of events, about pattern and structure. With each repetition, elements are experienced differently. Every reiteration initiates a transformation.

Use of Pencil  on paper as a primary medium, is linked not only to the idea of gesture where ‘mark making’ becomes an extension of the self indicating emotive states such as patience or impulsiveness, but it is also a sequential record of temporality. Time is linear. Here linearity records time. Each line/action holds the memory of time and space travelled through while creating a particular work.  Colour on the other hand, though used sparingly, is expressive and emotive in character. The layered and striated shapes created from acrylic paints overlap and run into each other, finally melting into an image which may be strangely evocative.

It would not be wrong to say that Ushmita’s paintings are an extension of herself.  She negotiates her life, its influences and its emotions within the two dimensional surface of her works.Each work is rooted in particular events, yet Ushmita does not necessarily wish to narrate these. She wishes her viewer to interact with them according to their own experience and not be guided by a single reading. She wishes her works to be the starting point of a journey and evolve in its meanings. She welcomes multiple interpretations. Transformation, time and space are essential elements both as a tool in her working process as well as in the underlying concept of her praxis.

Ushmita is currently exhibiting her works in a group exhibition of eight women artists titled Next in White Walls, The Art Gallery, in Kochi, Kerala. The exhibition is curated by Anoop Kamath.