The Art Review | Works on Paper and Ceramic Sculptures | Nature Morte, New Delhi
Reviewed by Chahak Agrawal | 9 December, 2021
Featured artwork: Ray Meeker, Fire and Ice Post | Mona Rai, Forest Fire
For a closer look at the exhibition, check out our video on our Youtube channel.
Two consummate veterans of Indian contemporary art come together in an adventitious showing of physical form and materials, as they explore the artistry of abstractions and the aesthetics of poetics in contemporary art.
In the midst of the painted white exposed brick structures of Dhan Mill in Chattarpur, Nature Morte presents a showing of form and structure, creating a quiet spectacle of art that stands somewhere between ostentatious and understated, as the open space of the gallery becomes a confluence of clay and porcelain in the centre, and the walls lined with two-dimensional works on paper. Working synergistically, Mona Rai and Ray Meeker come together in an exploration of form, as they work to bring their own experiences and representations of the world to their art.
Streaming natural light into the enclosure, Nature Morte uses the large open space of their premises to highlight the exhibit on display, as the interplay between large, monolithic sculptures and geometric and fragile works on paper from individual series of works by the artists force a cohesive picture on the study of form and material, and the relation between the abstraction of art and the aesthetics of poetry. With over 70 works spread across the large open-plan of Nature Morte, the exhibition becomes a confluence of thoughts, material, structures, and unabashed creation.
Mona Rai, Silence, 2020
Mona Rai’s works are a reflection of the years of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns forcing her to stay indoors and exist in a state of simultaneous flux and stagnancy. Her works on paper reflect the kind of monotony that exists in times like those, as well as the desire to break away from the everyday grind of living through reliving memories, nostalgia, and hope. Using repetitive and symmetrical geometric patterns, dots, dashes, etc. in many of her works, it’s a process of coming to terms with the isolation wrought by the pandemic by the artist, with the process seeming almost therapeutic. Works such as Silence, made in 2020 at the height of the pandemic induced lockdown, represent the inner workings of an artist forced to stifle their experiences of the outside world and find solace in presenting one’s inner thoughts in works of art.
Mona Rai, Rakto Kaeobi, 2020
With inspiration drawn from the works of Zarina and the neo-minimalist movements of art, Rai’s work celebrates the process of creation, and of abstraction borne out of transient thoughts and forced isolation. Titled Rakto Kaeobi and Blood Rain, her introspection of mortality and elements around her makes her works a study of materials and medium, and of human existence in all its symmetry and asymmetry, in a language that speaks to the person rather than the rules of a codified speech.
Ray Meeker, Rought Cut, 2020
In this reflection of pure creation, stand Ray Meeker’s sculptures in the middle of the open plan of the gallery. A result of a series of mistaken steps wherein leftover clay which had hardened with time was cut into jagged pillars of semi-solid materials, Meeker uses his materials to reflect his notions of hyper-consumerism and the process of discarding objects deemed unusable. In a simultaneous discourse on the consumerism of the east and the west, as well as a celebration of the found object, his works such as the Rough Cut series, suggest beauty in the off-cuts, and profundity in the discarded. And the jagged edges of each, with the roughness of the tools used embedded for all time, also suggest the violence and brutality of creation, one that comes with manual and forceful manipulation of naturally fluid and formless materials. There is a politics of power that comes with the ability to create, and Meeker’s works are a reflection of the process that is often lost in the venerations of the final piece.
Ray Meeker, Fire and Ice 3, 2021
Inspired by Robert Frost’s Fire and Ice, Meeker’s series of works titled Fire and Ice is carefully crafted careless structures of clay that are glazed in places to represent ice and charred in others to represent fire. The poem, a commentary on the fiery nature of unbridled desire and consumerist ideals and the bitterness of hate and differences, form the perfect backdrop to Meeker’s own findings of hate and desire, and the destruction that can be caused by them. As such, none of his works are flawless works of pure abstract art, but harsh reflections of what art can become and what unchecked creation can lead to, and the inevitability of corrosion and decay that sets in when man tries to change, mould, and control nature.
Mona Rai, Cartography, 2018
Works on Paper and Ceramic Structures is a conversation between Mona Rai’s celebration of creation and Ray Meeker’s scepticism of the process, all the while oscillating between consummate reflections on the beauty of making art and the burden of reflecting reality and thoughts through a medium that transcends absolute meaning and definitions. The exhibition ended on the 28th of November, 2021 but can still be viewed on Nature Morte’s website.