'Painting' in the post- minimalist era has copious insinuations, Sharmila Mohandas is a 'painter' in the 'modernist' sense, a 'neo-expressionist' in the post-modern lingo and an elemental figurative psychosomatic self-portraitist in an all-contemporary artistic gist.
'Contemporaneity' encompasses every political conversation of any social order specially the gender and the sexual politics of women. Sharmila's political standing cuts in to the male chauvinistic realm and reverberates in the corridors of masculine penitentiary. Sharmila Mohandas has exhibited widely in India and abroad. Her works are in distinguished private collections. She lives and works in Chennai.
Exhibition in Celje will be 22. of October at 7 P.M. in Billet house Gallery.
Cataloque of Sharmila's exhibition in Celje is avaible here.
Interwiev with Sharmila Mohandas on National Radio Slovenia SI is avaible here.
In the existent exhibition the artist continues with her work that is some sort of expressive continuation of her earlier works. The focus remains on the female body, which is still essential for her expression. The painter is unpredictably predictable, her experiences are still in the forefront, and she uses her body for interpretation. Her personal drama is not from heaven, but it originates from life, that she, as she claims, does not take emotionally. “I always lock my bedroom door at night” she says, “and I like to be isolated even from myself”. At present the artist presents herself with works, in which the focal motive is still the female body, namely female perceptible nudes. Some bodies are illustrated solely with schematic lines, some are realistically depicted, some are discreet, yet others direct, but all are brittle and vulnerable, wrapped in symbolism. The artist establishes contrasts between realistic and imaginary with the usage of colours, predominantly red and green, and blues in the recent work, by blurring the borders between them. Sharmila tells her story with nudes, some sort of autobiographical hermeneutics, where her life experiences speak out to a great extent. Balanced compositions of her works allow diverse interpretations, but also speculations. Metaphorical functions become character elements that grow steadily and develop into hardly understandable female symbols. Her works become indiscreet and indirect, the body is even more revealing, blunt and vocal. The artist strives to explain the known and unknown, she reveals her vulnerability, her momentary well-being, and her cultural and personal identity that she identifies as alien to herself. That is why the idea of an experience is essential for her creativity, when she paints her body. It is impossible to separate her natural and social elements. Sharmila’s paining style shows imaginary subjectivity in an imaginary objective world. For that reason she claims that the contrast between the real, unreal and metaphorical is a condition for the existence of the real. Images and shapes are our world, our self-cognition, our differentiation between the truth and falsehood or lie. Sharmila seeks her new identity, which however will not blur the old one. This duplicity conceptualises with her calmness and the tension between expressing her identity trapped in a female body. She wishes to break free of the bonds that the environment dictates and show her feminine individuality – equality in a patriarchal environment.
Aleš Stopar, art historian and curator
Modernism in Indian art developed in contexts entirely different from those of the West. India’s history, as she emerged from a colony to an independent nation, forged a generation of artists with dynamic socio-political ideas and vibrant aesthetic concepts. The roots of modern Indian art can be located in encounters with Western trends from the 18th and 19th centuries, but the development of modernism was fuelled by the nationalist movement. After independence many artists groups worked towards the creation of a visual idiom for a modern nation. There was introspection about their identity as artists, shedding the classical styles of colonial art, being exposed to European modernism and delving into their own cultural roots. The search for an Indian identity led them to the cultural forms of their region, looking at local traditions, folk forms, re-visiting the regional. Most schools evolved their own style - the Regional Modern. Different parts of the country were yielding their own Regional Moderns contributing to a Renaissance in modern India.
It can be concluded that the painter Sharmila Mohandas intertwines the elements of all above mentioned schools and upgrades them with her own individual personal poetics that originate from the conscious exploration of the depths of the subconscious. The focal art element in her works is the colour. The element of colour has a vivid emotional charge in both psychological and physiological sense. She generally uses the complementary colour contrast between the figure and the background. Her own individual iconography is characteristic of her work – the female figure, the limitation on the essentials and the prudent colour. The paintings fuse the folklore and the mystique of Indian painting with the colours of Postimpressionism and Fauvism in extremely simplified shapes.
The body of works that was made in Slovenia in autumn 2015 represents a peculiar retreat from the artist's retrospective so far. This time the artist leans mainly on the active and medial line that she uses to articulate the figurative elements. A line is the most spontaneous means of expression in art and has an irrational function of intuition in perception. It brings dynamics into the composition – movement and at the same time (polar opposite), closed contours expressing certain entrapment in space and time that is linked to the author's personal stories and has therefore autobiographical hermeneutics.
Petra Vencelj, art critic