Priya Vadhyar: Continuum [Degrees of Separation]

Photo: Sandeep Shetty

Abstraction had its turn during a time when there was an utmost need to bring a revolution to the art practices. Abstraction with its practical identity could never have been a revolutionary act. Effervescent and treading a subtle path, it selects the sensitive mind.

Modernist painters gradually chose abstraction to free themselves from the bondage of defined aspects and stringent prevalent practices. This was not a planned resolution. It inevitably occurred with the very need to express at experiential junctions. Moreover, in abstraction, communication manifests through subconscious layers. The chances are meager but always certain.

Priya Vadhyar is an artist based in Columbia, USA. While discussing a thought provoking work by composer John Cage, 4’33, she simplifies, “It is the chances. Experimentation creatively shakes things up.” Vibhu Kapoor, Director of Gallery Beyond, Mumbai, met Priya a few years ago. Showing an interest in her practice, he has been showcasing her artworks in a number of group shows ever since.

Incandescent Realms, Mixed media on paper, 2017.

Continuum: Degrees of Separation is the maiden solo exhibition in India of abstract paintings by Priya Vadhyar showing at Gallery Beyond. The show features acrylic paintings on canvas, monotype prints and water-soluble graphite on paper. This is the first part of her dual series-exhibition. The second part, Continuum: The Illusion of Edges, will be shown at Carrol Community College, Westminster, during Spring 2019. Except for a few, all the artworks on display are created between 2017-18. She practices at her studio in Columbia.

An intriguing feature of the ongoing exhibition is the bright-hued strokes on canvas- while some appear bold, others are unassumingly meek, complemented by black and white renderings in print, drawings and sketches. The lucid and the precise are qualities running through her works. Acrylic abstracts belong to the transitional phase while monochromes are at the threshold of acquired realisations. The transitional phase is wriggling, squabbling and in persistent motion. At the same time, there are moments of beatific revelations happening through her drawings. These two complementary facets go hand in hand.

Becoming the Night, Mixed media on paper, 2018

The titles corresponding to the forms that eventually surface, are consequential. Negotiating with a seemingly hazy language, the ongoing communication between the artist, the medium and the outcome is challenging.

“It was a little practical decision of choosing Economics. I was doing Developmental Economics. My interest in art was tipping the scale. There was no way I could manage both the things. I was not talking about a career here but to just do art”, shares Priya. With a Masters in Economics, and having been a research assistant, to editing reports in the same stream as a professional at various institutions in India, she was able to sustain her intense urge to express by trying out multiple artistic approaches. However, she always felt a greater pull towards abstract principles. It is this strong desire that made her meet her mentor, Josh Goldberg, under whom she learned Abstract painting and the medium of Acrylics. She pursued a short course at Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai in 2004, where she developed her skills in Anatomy and Still-life.

Priya being an Associate at Pyramid Atlantic Art Centre, practices printmaking at one of the studios there. The combination of accidental results, the certainty of the effects, as well as self-learning, apparently delivers perfection to her prints. The vibrantly textured colour-splotches composed within small spaces, easily imbibes her personal expressions as they project her silent process of occasionally shifting to this medium. “Drawing and painting is not the final frontier for me”, confides Priya.

While discussing her oeuvre and consistent practice, Priya shares that she has eventually begun to realize the myriad nature of outcomes. It is neither negative nor positive, it is the evacuation from within the self that keeps defining her art and the self.

Continuum [Degrees of Separation] showing at Gallery Beyond, Mumbai, will conclude on October 20th, 2018.
Photos: Sandeep Shetty