Review by Oiendrila Moitra
February 15, 2014


Chalat Musafir

Sangeeta Singh
January 11-23, 2014
Art Speaks India, New Delhi

Sangeeta Singh’s recent exhibition “Chalat Musafir” is an honest depiction of her understanding and association with the migrants and their expeditions, their struggle for existence and the dilemma of their present. 
The show has two distinct series, “Chal Chala Chal” and “Euphoria”. Where in both share the endurance of a migrant who flies and sits and then again flies off to a distant place, both have their individualistic character and perceptions. “Chal..” is a series that depicts her experience of the rickshaw-travels in the suburbs of Delhi. The rickshaw pullers who were mainly migrants from other places settled down in Delhi for economical purposes lives with a dilemma of impermanence, being an outsider and living with it. The POV of the depicter of the incident of a rikshaw-travel even make it more interesting as we as viewers gets totally in-to the picture and seems to travel along the artist on the rikshaw. The struggle of pulling the rickshaw, the sweat soaked shirt, the fragments of the journey all put together depicts very nicely the ideography of the man pulling the rickshaw, a person constantly fighting his way for existence and living. A person who does not belong to the place he is working but merely an outsider. He grows affinity with the road, the people he is carrying but he lives constantly with the fear of displacement. His existence is in peril of some permanent bodies who owns the place literally. The journey is only his own. He is a journeyer. A Musafir. Who have to travel, who have to continue travelling to live. 
“Euphoria” is another series of Sangeeta where the moral of the story is also same but the visual ingredients varies. The story is about the migrating birds that travels unendingly, in a proper cycle to distant unknown places and again fly back. Their life is definitely relied on travel; journey and essentially they live for travelling. If in the previous series of “Chal..”, she have directly shown the class of the people who were essentially migrants for the city, this series metaphorically represents the birds, who speaks for a whole larger group of migrants, some known some unknown. They are flying high, travelling in independence, whereas the city lies still and blunt below.
Sangeeta’s canvases shines with colors. She speaks with a hint of melancholy but the optimism emerges in her representations of the subjects with fresh bright primaries and hues, decorative patters and drawings. She has developed a considerable skill of realism in depiction that makes the canvases yet more real and lively. Another very interesting aspect of her painting is an unconventional way of setting of the images, sometimes round, sometimes oval, sometimes in different geometric shapes, where the naturalistic rikshaw pullers transforms into images of varied dialogue makers. The artist’s depiction of her own foot in the images also shows directly how the artist is involved in the story personally and equally provokes the viewer to get indulged in them.
Sangeeta’s exhibition speaks. The viewers who shares their own experiences of migration being migrators themselves or seen or known somebody migrated can understand the emotion she wants to share. We all are Musafirs, in one way or another, and she helps to remind us or realise us again.