Three very different artists at SALA impress with their talent
Not many of us have the gift of being able to express our deepest thoughts, emotions and feelings like artists. We like looking at works of art not just because they can be things of beauty, but also because they relate to us on an emotional or spiritual level. A dash of paint on a canvas, a sculpted piece or the click of the camera shutter… and the artist is up and away conveying a story to the rest of the world.
This year’s SALA (South Australia Living Artists) Festival included over 5200 artists. Their work was displayed in some 600 exhibitions and events in a variety of locations. Amongst the artists that caught my eye were Sonali Patel, Jadumani Singh and Meenakshi Mahajan each working predominantly in a different medium to the others.
Originally from Mumbai, Sonali loves sculpture. Being able to combine her first love of painting and use that to embellish her sculpted works gives her huge satisfaction. She feels there is more opportunity in sculpture to express herself. As if in confirmation, I could sense that the tactile nature of materials used in sculpture was well suited to her strong personality.
“I am inspired by the human form, its beauty and fragility and am fascinated by patterns and designs in nature,” she says. Her interest in Greek mythology has been a source of much inspiration for her works as have her travels, including to India and Italy. Her residency under renowned artist Jorge Orta at the Orta Studio in Paris was also an important part of her development. Being surrounded by and working with international artists enriched and inspired her.
When pushed, she felt that her favourite work may be Narcissus Reflecting. This is the heart-breaking story of a youth who fell in love with his own beauty reflected in a pool and just wasted away. Her work tries to capture the idea by placing the ceramic bust on a circular mirror which reflects his image for eternity.
Beyond SALA, where her art will take her, she does not know. Maybe another residency in Paris? At the end of the day she finds art meditative and rewarding and is quite happy as things stand at the moment.
On his visiting card, Jadu, hailing from Manipur, describes himself as Doctor, Photographer, Artist, Traveller, Blogger, Technology Nerd, Food and Wine Lover. He must be a magician to morph into so many forms. So which Jadu was I going to meet that cold, rainy day, I wondered.
Adelaide Booksellers, a delightfully quaint bookshop in the heart of Adelaide, was hosting an exhibition of photographs by Jadu as part of the SALA Festival.
“Photography provides a challenge as you have just one chance, and one chance only, to capture the image you have in your mind,” Jadu says.
He is not afraid to use technology, but he believes in using it with a light touch to have minimum intervention in his work.
His stunning picture of Brighton Jetty has a depth and feel of 3-D about it. The water appears to be alive, and reflections in it are captured to perfection.
His macro shot of mature seed-heads looks as if it must have been touched up with paint meticulously and laboriously; it is hard to believe it to be a photograph.
Looking at his website magicpearl.com, a clever transliteration of his name, we can see his many other interests and accomplishments. As he says, ‘he loves to paint and take photos’. But he also reviews gadgets and provides recipes. His recipe of the very English dish Shepherd’s Pie with an Indian twist took me by surprise, but it looks worth a try.
For Jadu, photography is a serious hobby. He doesn’t think it would become his career, as he simply loves his work in Intensive Care where he is Senior Registrar at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
It was a delight to meet Meenakshi. Having arrived with her family from Delhi just five months ago to start a new life in Adelaide, it was nice to see her starting to establish herself in the art scene so quickly by taking part in SALA 2015.
Meenakshi likes working in a variety of mediums and combines different styles in her works. In her SALA pictures, we see photographs of a female form, enlarged and printed, and then the canvas is painted using acrylic paints. The ‘amoeba’ painting is beautifully controlled and has contours that complement those of the female body. The colours used and the finesse of the webbing is quite special. Her Blogspot confirms the variety and richness of her work and ideas.
“I am motivated by modern Indian artists such as Gauri Gill and Bharti Kher,” Meenakshi reveals.
In Delhi she was teaching art and had presented her works in numerous galleries and exhibitions. She would love to make a career as a full-time artist and feels complete and fulfilled when she is painting. To her each of her works is precious and that’s quite understandable as a lot of her soul goes into her paintings.
It was immediately clear that Meenakshi is a deep thinker. She has a certain philosophical intent and that appears to be the main theme underlying her SALA works. It can be explained as the cycle of life: of birth, development and then decay and renewal. The message of generation and re-generation in her works comes across beautifully.
“My art is about peeling away the outer layers of the human personality and getting to the hidden sub-conscious,” she concludes.
From the quietly confident Meenakshi to the relaxed Jadu to the bubbly Sonali, each artist I met at SALA seems to find total satisfaction in their art. Not many of us are so lucky to have that.