MYSTERY BEHIND THE LAYERS

Review by Hemavathy Guha
October 01, 2018

 

Lamina
Manish Pushkale
August 13 to September 14, 2018
Akar Prakar, New Delhi

Akar Prakar exhibited recent works of Manish Pushkaleknown for his abstract and serene paintings.  His paintings evoke a sense of peace and calmness in the viewer.

Manish never went to an art school, but during the 1990s he spent some time in Bharat Bhavan inBhopal and also worked for some time in the graphic media enjoying the process of creating etchings on zinc plates.But to a question on how he chose the arts or the particular style,he says, “Bharat Bhavan played an important role in the emergence of my being.I got very wide and holistic exposure of art from the evocative environments of that place.I became keen on art by seeing art.The collection in the ‘roopankar’ of Bharat Bhavan was provoking.My mould was broken after the casting of my being in Bharat Bhavan.”

In his exhibition titled Lamina(the name was given by Ranjit Hoskote), one encountered two different sets of paintings.One wasthe pure abstract paintings and the others were also paintings in which he had pasted and painted over irregular shapes of the handmade paper, giving texture and achieving various levels on the canvas.In both these treatments,he had excelled himself.Lamina meaning a thin layer or the scale of sedimentary rock best explains his works which exudes a transparency and translucency.

One of the large diptych oil painting displayed on an entire wall, titled Lamina 10,looked like an acrylic or a pastel work in soft hues.One could see some images like a rock or a boulder standing erect in aqua blue and light pale brown.While looking at this painting,one felt as though one were looking at things submerged in deep see or in the depths of the earth.That’s what Manish also would like his viewers to feel as he is a student of geology and he has been painting the different layers,minerals and many other elements in the crust of the earth,for several years.As Manish says, in some of his paintings there are as many as 30 layers.Regarding his process Manish informs “It is like a geological activity in nature of erosion and deposition.I follow the same logic on the plains of canvas”.

Manish would like to change the perception of oil on canvas and make the oil painting resemble a water colour in itstranslucency.

Lamina 5was a mixed media on canvas displayed in one of the inner rooms. Soft and pale brown in colour,in this painting,we could see the inner crust of a rock or boulder cut into two with its cracks, pores and the outer layers. In the painting titled Shiv Parvathi, wecould view  two forms close together which might be again boulders, but which gave the appearance of human figures like the apparition that we sometimes see.Manish had successfully created several tones of the sepia which merge beautifully in the painting. A dot or a small circle here and there completed the work.Although simple in nature, this subdued tone is achieved through several days and layers of hard work.

The second series of works were all mixed media on paper which was a combination of irregular shapes of handmade papers pasted andpainted over. In the smaller works which were very intense, he had used lines,letters and numericals like denotinglongitudes and latitudes.

In one of the bigger paintings titled Lamina 2,Manish had divided the space into two parts,if I may say so.In the smaller part, there was just a boulder with a white string tied to it in the vast blue space.While in the other part,he had created a multitude of shapes and forms by pasting bits and pieces of the handmade paper which wasinterlaced with flat forms in white and blue grey.

Lamina 7 was also a mixed media on paper in which too he had divided the space into two almost equal parts with forms in the centre running through the length.On one side of the canvas, he had again pasted pieces of the handmade paper painted over in blue and the other side he had done the same process in sepia.Although contradictory colours,they somehow merged due to the dexterous treatment.

Lamina 6 and 12 were both mixed media on paper with 6 having different hues of blue,green and even some patches of red and 12 in light grey and brown.In these paintings too the pieces of handmade papers had been pasted and painted over and some images with forms in part of the paintings.Lamina 11 and 14 were both elongated paintings. In Lamina 11, the handmade papers were in different hues of sepia,black and grey merging together.There were also some forms with many layers and letters and numbers.Lamina 14 was a little different as over the handmade paper pieces,he had again painted some dots and created textures.The painting was again interspersed with layered forms and pale brown colour on one side. It also hadletters at uniform intervals on the top side of the painting. Some lines and dots connected various parts.

In this manner,the whole series of paintings titled Lamina was a visual treat in hues of different colour spectrum in the palette.

The artist has held several solo shows with many significant galleries and has participated in innumerable number of group shows across the world in the last 25 years. Representing the country at Festival of India in France, 2016 and exhibiting in Musee de Guethary, he is a recipient of many awards, honours and residencies. He was a fellow at Institute of Advance studies in Nantes, 2014, a trustee of The Raza Foundation, apart from being actively involved in co-editing AROOP (a journal dedicated to the visual arts published by The Raza Foundation).